Monthly Archives: April 2013

Internet Withdrawl Pangs

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**Just a note about dates and times:  I wrote this blog on Sunday and scheduled it to post on Tuesday… because Sunday is the day that I went to McDonalds to use their free Wi-Fi.  You’ll see in a minute why that is relevant information.  Oh and also, I use the word “crap” a lot in this blog.  It’s a perfectly good substitute for that other expletive.  Sometimes you just need a good expletive even if you’re a Christian.**

 

We haven’t had steady Internet for weeks and weeks.  We have been running on a ratio of about 10 minutes of connectivity per 2 hours.  And that’s super crappy when you “work from home” like my husband does- like most missionaries I know do.  I actually check emails and send messages from school on most days.  I don’t get signal in my classroom, but I can take my laptop to the library and mooch off of the school office Wi-Fi.

 

Yesterday we had the repair guys from our crappy Internet service provider come out to the house for the bizzillionth time to “fix” it.  They propped a ladder up on the side of the house and climbed to the roof.  Then they tore a bunch of wires out of an electrical box in the laundry room.  Then they took their ladder out to the street for a looksy at the pole out there.  Then one guy left, leaving his partner in my kitchen sipping a glass of ice water for two hours.

 

When he came back, he had a new router.  He insisted our router was the issue.  He plugged his new router into our line, and it too failed to catch a signal.  The men pronounced that the problem was something at the street level and “someone” would come out tomorrow to fix it.  Tomorrow is Sunday.  But we don’t dare leave the house now for fear that we will miss the repair guy and have to wait another week for another appointment.  When they left, not only did our Internet not work… neither did our cable T.V.  “Gee, THANKS Tigo!  Now we might actually DIE of boredom as we wait for you.”

 

They have come out so many times, and each time they tell us it’s the same problem.  “There is a box connecting your house to the street line.  The box gets water in it and shorts out the connection.”  This really makes me want to curse.  We live in a city built in a freaking tropical rainforest!  It’s not even the rainy season yet and our electrical box is already filled with water??  HOW?  I want to scream, “Uses a waterproof box for crying out loud!”  But that would mean that at least these two men would be out of a job, if everyone’s Internet actually WORKED!  Jobs are more important than personal convenience or efficiency.  So we are missing church today to wait for the repair guys.

 

Later today I will be shlepping my laptop up to McCafe at our favorite American export- that chain fast food place responsible for making “all” Americans FAT… so says the media.  And I will be scheduling a week’s worth of blogs to post on their assigned dates.  So, I am thankful that somewhere in this city there is free Wi-Fi for the desperate and unconnected folks of the 21st Century.  God Bless McDonalds!

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I was here

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I think the desire to leave your mark on the world is deeply carved into the human DNA.  How many bathroom stalls have you been in where some adolescent has NOT carved his name into the wall?  “John was here” or “Jane was here,” depending on which room you find yourself in.  I think that this is one reason why social media is so popular.  People are projecting into the void, “I am here!”  And I believe that at the core of every mid-life crisis is the doubt that you are NOT leaving your mark on the world- the fear that you are failing in your most human task.  When I am gone, will anyone know that I was here?  Will it matter that I WAS here?

There is a song by Coldplay that I really like.  It’s called “MyloXyloto”.  I don’t really know what that means, as a matter of fact, I don’t know what most of the song means but I like it.  For example, the chorus says, “You use your heart as a weapon, and it hurts like heaven.”  Well, I can’t really comprehend that, but the beat is bouncy and makes me want to dance with wild abandon.  And there are other lyrics that catch me and cut me deeply.  I like this song.

When the lead singer croons, “Do you ever get the feeling that you’re missing the mark?  So close, so close” I get that.  And then he leans into the rhythm, “On the concrete canvas I’ll be coming apart, on the concrete canvas I’ll go making my mark, Oooh with a spray can soul, with a spray can soul.”  Yes, I know this feeling.  Even though this does not make me want to take up graffiti art, I really do understand the basic need expressed here.  “I was here!” the artist is telling the world.

spray paint

I evaluate my life often to be certain that I am leaving the mark that I want to leave.  The interpretation of that mark is out of my control, but where and what kind of mark I leave is entirely within my control.  I will not leave my mark on a wall (unless someone hangs up one of my paintings), but I try to leave my mark on your heart.

It is indeed possible to leave your mark on a human canvas.  My daughter came home from school the other day with her hands and arms graffitied by a friend with a yellow glow-in-the-dark marker.  Sophia left her mark on Emma.  Sophia was here.

Then I think about what God says about leaving marks on people.  He’s not opposed to it.  He says, I will carve your name on my hands and you will be mine.  If I am carved on God’s hands, then I know he will never, ever forget me.  This world may forget me if I fail to make an indelible mark on it, but God can never forget me.  My name is tattooed on his hands.  April IS here.

Photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/chriszerbes/7976579366/”>chris zerbes</a> / <a href=”http://foter.com/People/”>Foter.com</a&gt; / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>CC BY-NC-ND</a>

I want Roots AND Wings

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Today is one of those days when I literally ACHE to have my own home.  For years and years we have lived as nomads, changing rental locations every few months or years.  This is just the lifestyle of missionaries.  I joke that moving frequently keeps you clean.  When I look at pretty things in stores I resist the urge to buy by thinking about having to sell it or pack it or move it in a few months.  Yuck, suddenly “pretties” lose their attraction.

I really do love my life.  I am doing exactly what I have always wanted to do.  I am proud of us as a family for thriving in another culture.  I am fulfilled and happy in my life and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  I have wings to fly and no weights holding me bound to this earth!

But there are days when wings don’t feel like enough.  There are times when I think I would like roots instead of wings.  When I see friends on Facebook posting pictures of their new houses, I feel jealous.  When I see others making pretty Pintrest crafts to adorn their newly remodeled kids’ bedrooms, I feel jealous.  Then I remind myself that Pintrest is a gateway drug to hoarding, and I shut off the Internet.

baby angelI feel like a 2 year old, spiritually speaking.  “I want what I have AND what you have.”  On these petulant days, I have to be deliberate in my thankfulness or I will start feeling sorry for myself.  I pull myself out of my rumination and look around for something to trigger the avalanche of thankfulness that I am sure is hovering over my head in the spirit realm.  I seize upon the parrots swooping noisily over my yard and I am thankful.  I feel the tropical breeze cooling my rental house and I am thankful that it is 75* and not -10*.  I notice the paint peeling off the side of our house and I am thankful, in a perverse way, because I don’t have the responsibility to scrape and paint that wall.  I watch my children run around our yard, and I know that we are blessed by Costa Rican standards to have such a large yard.  I look at the high wall surrounding our house.  It is topped with electrical fencing and razor wire.  I feel safe living here, and that is something else to be thankful for.

Does the bird complain about the weight of wings?  Never.  She blissfully rises into the sky without a thought of what she might be missing down below.  The bird is content with her fragile, little nest because most of the time she is soaring above the clouds instead of puttering around indoors.

I bend my thoughts to the sky.  I pull my mind out of the dirt where it is trying to suck water from the dry ground.  I stretch my soul towards the heavens and rise on the warm thermal drafts of thankfulness.  Up and up, higher and higher I fly.  I have wings, for what do I need roots?  Today I declare in faith, “I am content to fly.”

Photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/courosa/5788131697/”>courosa</a&gt; / <a href=”http://foter.com/Kids/”>Foter.com</a&gt; / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>CC BY-NC-SA</a>

Faith is the evidence of things not seen

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I woke up this morning with a “Summer Head Cold”.  (It is still Summer here in Costa Rica, even though my Minnesota friends have recently had another foot of snow dumped on them in a rare “Spring storm”.) I automatically wondered, “Where did this cold come from?”  I spent a few minutes reviewing the events of my week, searching for a particularly germy location where I could have picked up a bug.  It was a toss up between being at school with 150 children or spending hours in the Immigration office, which was air-conditioned.  Costa Ricans firmly believe that a rapid change in temperature can make you sick (or kill you).  Apparently they were proven right today.  It’s no more ridiculous than American mothers ordering their children to put on hats to prevent a cold.

Anyhow, once I had settled on a possible source of my cold, I actually felt more at ease.  Silly, I know.  I am one of those people who feel better with more information.  When things are left vague, I am uneasy.  I am hard-wired to sift through the grains of life searching for nuggets of information to guide my decision-making.  When I can’t find those nuggets or the sifter is torn from my hands, I feel like life is out of control.  I am programmed to search for purpose and meaning in life.

For me, faith is going forward with insufficient information.  I do not consider it faith when I witness a miracle, or when I pray in another language, or when I observe the physical effects of contact with the spirit world.  No, for me those things are logical manifestations of the supremacy of our God.  We should by fact have a physical reaction when a Superior Being gets close to us- that’s normal, in my mind.  That requires no faith, for me.

Where I am stretched is when I am required to take a step without being totally secure of my data-base, when I don’t see a purpose.  If I know the WHY, I can proceed without fear.  If I know the final destination of these steps, the WHERE, then I can walk forward without concern.  If I can see an obvious HOW, then I have no reason to draw on my faith.  But when those questions are left ambiguous, or worse when they are completely unaddressed, then I frantically cast about for something else to hold on to like a drowning person searches for a life preserver.  The thing I seize upon is where my faith is anchored:  the personality of God.  God is the rope that I cling to.

What I believe God to be is the core of faith.  I cannot see Him.  But I can see the EVIDENCE of what he is, of who he is.  Just like I can’t see wind, for example, but I can see the evidence that wind exists- so it is with God.  Having faith is like being a forensic investigator.  We have to look for clues, finger prints, that God was here.  We build up our knowledge of him, our data-base, which gives us a larger and stronger rope to grab on to when the trail has taken an unexpected turn or the lead has gone cold.  In those times, when I am left without a WHY or a HOW or a WHERE I hold onto the rope, which is my faith in who God is.

I say to myself, “I don’t know why I am going through this, but I know that God has already approved this trial because he is all knowing.  He is in control and nothing surprises him.  He has promised that he only has good plans for me.  He will not harm me.”  When I can’t make sense of my reality, I hold onto my faith in the Goodness of Almighty God.  God is always good… even when I have a cold.

Um, Thanks… I think.

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Last week I went to a graduation where I saw several Costa Rican friends that I hadn’t seen in a few months.  One friend dramatically exclaimed, “Oh my goodness!  Have you lost weight?  You look so good.  The last time I saw you, you were much fatter!”  Um, thanks… I think.

This is one cultural difference that I have yet to get comfortable with.  In Latin America, a physical description of a person’s body is just that… a physical description of a person’s body.  This is in contrast with American culture where a physical description of one’s body can be the same as a judgement of character, a determination of worth, or an obvious truth which must be carefully danced around to avoid being “politically incorrect”.  It is a touchy subject, a taboo.

tug-of-warIn America, a person is very much judged on their presentation.  If someone looks professional they are treated differently than if they dress like a student.  However, we are proud of our individuality and religiously defend our right to express ourselves through our appearance.  These two features of our society pull at women like a child playing with silly putty.  Women feel a strong pull in the one direction to live up to a particular standard of beauty and another pull in the other direction to be a unique individual.  It’s a difficult balancing act.

In Costa Rica, I have observed that women are proud of their curves.  It does not matter what your body shape, every woman can dress sexy if she wants to.  I feel none of the body consciousness that I feel in America.  I actually don’t feel like I look all that bad compared with other women.  But in America, the pressure to be something you aren’t is intense and unrelenting.  It’s nice to be in a place where the female body is accepted and even celebrated in all it’s shapes and variety.

In Costa Rica, it does not matter how much money you have.  Every woman can dress professionally if she wants to.  I remember when we first arrived here we would drive through very poor neighborhoods with dilapidated shacks as houses.  I watched in awe as the doors would open and professional looking business men and women would emerge to start their work day with a walk to the bus stop.  Clearly these people took a lot of effort to rise above their circumstances and try to make something better of themselves.  I was impressed.

Here, people dress how they want to dress, and speak frankly about their bodies.   I really do find their disregard for political trip-wires to be quite refreshing.  People say what they want to say and no one takes offense.

fatmouse_lPeople refer to each other by their ethnicity, skin color, physical features and eating habits.  Within one family you could have the nicknames Chino (for someone who looks Asian), Negr0/a (for a family member with darker skin), Gordo/a (for a chubby loved one), or Chancho (piggy).  And the Costa Ricans love to add “-ito” or “-ita” which is the diminutive for adjectives making Gordita into a term of endearment.  So one might call their wife “my little fatty” like we would call a baby a “butterball”.

The honesty can be refreshing… until someone calls ME a little fatty.  Then I don’t like it at all.  I really never know how to respond when someone comments on my weight so directly.  I usually just smile and say “Thank You”.  I know they mean no malice.

Photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/people/71164184@N00″>Sumith Meher</a> / <a href=”http://foter.com”>Foter.com</a&gt; / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>CC BY-SA</a>

Photo credit: <a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org//en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Bigplankton”>Bigplankton</a&gt; / <a href=”http://foter.com”>Foter.com</a&gt; / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/”>Public Domain Mark 1.0</a>

Death by Bureaucracy

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This week my salvation was tested in a fiery trial of red tape.  I almost gave into the temptation to assault someone behind a counter in the office of Immigration.  We have been working for the last 3 years on getting our “Permanent” Residency Visas… which will only last for 2 years before they must be renewed.  That right there should be a clue to the kind of thinking that we encounter in government offices of Third World Countries.  Apparently “Permanent” does not mean what you think it means.  I now know that “Permanent” means permanently standing in line to have papers stamped.

Two months ago we spent another day standing in various hot, long lines; and we thought we saw the end of the tunnel.  We received a piece of paper with a date and time on it.  This was the appointment for us to return as a family to sign our “cedulas” which would mean that we would no longer have to leave the country every 90 days to renew our tourist visas.  We were ready to sign and celebrate the end of a long and expensive process to stay legal.  But the paper pushing gods were against us.

chairsOn the designated day, we arrived at Immigration with our 3 children in tow.  I know from experience that an appointment does not exempt you from standing in line for a few hours.  So we came prepared with snacks and Game Boys and iPods and Kindles- ready to endure.  When our blood sugar levels started to drop around noon and we still had not been called back into the cubical area, I knew things were not going well.

Finally they called all of us up to three separate cubicles and started drilling us with questions.  My husband asked if they could process all our papers together so we could be with our children and help them.  The answer was NO so we kept hovering between spaces, talking over half walls, and passing papers between us.  At one point the woman helping my husband actually LOST a paper that he had just handed her.  Ten minutes later and many insistent demands that SHE find the lost paper, it was discovered in a pile on someone else’s desk.  My own breaking point was rapidly approaching.

The woman working with my stack of papers pointed to our date and time for this appointment and asked, “So, have you started paying into the social security system since you were given this appointment date?”  I said, no, why would we pay social security if we didn’t have a visa yet?  She then briskly informed me that I had missed some imaginary deadline to start paying taxes and now all my paper work was invalid.  I was shocked.  I felt my brain start to seize up as I tried to process the words in Spanish.

I asked, “Where does it say that?  Show me where it says that I have to start paying taxes before a certain date or my visa application will be denied.”

She barked at me, “You just DO IT.”

“Yes, but how was I supposed to KNOW that?”

“You JUST KNOW IT!”

This illogical exchange occurred over and over for the next 15 minutes at ever increasing decibels until the tears eeked from the corners of my eyes.  I wanted to beat that woman upside the head until her marbles settled into the logical grooves.  How could someone be expected to navigate a bureaucratic rabbit warren using nothing but mystical forms of divination and mind reading?  It was as useless to reason with her as it would have been to reason with a brick wall.  I deeply desired to curse her with a plague of paper cuts and then squeeze lemon juice on her.

impatiently-waiting_lFive hours later we had managed to convince them to at least take our children’s pictures and put them into their files for a future date so that we wouldn’t have to take them out of school for another day, but we were no closer to getting our coveted residency visas than we had been 2 months earlier.  The next day, my husband went down to the social security office to set up an account.  They were just as confused as we were.  He only succeeded in obtaining another appointment next week to stand in line again.  And so the saga continues… unless I get deported from the country for strangling someone as I wait in line.

This is not an uncommon story among missionaries.  We are all a bit surprised, and a little gratified, when we hear how similar each of our stories are all around the world.  There is no use fighting the system.  We just pray for the endurance to press on and conquer yet another trial.  We have huge mountains of paper blocking the way to our calling.  Fortunately I know a God who specialized in moving mountains.

Photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/funky64/2603653222/”>Funky64 (www.lucarossato.com)</a> / <a href=”http://foter.com”>Foter.com</a&gt; / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>CC BY-NC-ND</a>

Photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/jasonlparks/5139930960/”>Jason L. Parks</a> / <a href=”http://foter.com”>Foter.com</a&gt; / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>CC BY-NC-ND</a>

The Ultimate Throw Up Story

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If the title wasn’t enough of a spoiler alert for you, I caution those with weak stomaches to… not become a mother.  This is a true story.  None of the names have been changed to protect the guilty.  Nothing has been exaggerated, though time has been slowed down so that we can fully appreciate the gory details in word form.  I repeat:  this is a true story.

This last weekend I played a role that I am not very good at playing… I was a nurse for my sick husband.  I admit that I am generally very unsympathetic to his complaints because I hold the ultimate trump card- Child Birth.  Once you’ve given birth to a baby, no complaint of pain can actually compare.  And I’ve given birth 3 times.  So I sort of feel like slapping anyone who whimpers or whines about a tummy ache.  I’m not a good nurse.

But apparently he really was sick because he did not make it to the toilet the first time he projectile vomited from the bathroom door in the direction of the commode.  I had already warned him that as soon as he was finished defiling the toilet that he would be required to scrub it out too.  But that threat had yet to come to fruition.  I was very self-serving in my motivation to actually clean the bathroom myself.  I needed to go potty and I didn’t want to do my business in a vat of puke.  So I relented and began washing down the walls of the bathroom.

As I contorted and twisted to reach behind the toilet… yes it was necessary… I tried to remember the last time I had cleaned back there.  Then I remembered.  Oh and I wish I could forget the night of the great “Barf-O-Rama”.

I heard the wretching all the way from my bedroom.  I had been in a dead sleep, but suddenly I was electrified with adrenaline, on my feet and running into my children’s bedroom hollering “NOOOOOOO!”  But I was too late.  The little one had just coughed and barfed on her own pillow and mattress.  Ugh.  I hate stripping the beds in the middle of the night.  Figuring that she was probably empty, I moved Lucy into her sister’s bed so I could clean her bed.

I had just returned from the laundry room downstairs when I heard it again, that juicy, choking cough that had produced the first bed shellacking.  “OH NO!  Not on your sister!”  I mentally gasped as I sprinted up the last few steps.  I entered the room in time to see Lucy sit up and turn toward the far side of the bed and once again yak… in her sister’s bed, down the wall and onto the floor.  I couldn’t believe it!  Two beds ruined in one night!

At this point, the odor in the house was putrid.  As I considered how many candles I could safely light, I moved Emma onto the couch in my room.  And because I didn’t know what else to do with Lucy, I stupidly put her into my own bed just while I stripped the second bed.  We now officially had no extra blankets clean.

As I was scrubbing the mattresses in the girls’ room, I heard it again… that horrible hacking cough.  This time, I thought, I’m going to get her into the bathroom or at least onto the tile floor before she throws up.  I ran at full speed into my bedroom, catapulting over the pile of dirty bedding in the hallway.  As I slid stocking foot up to my side of the bed, Lucy sat up and reached for me… still gagging.  I actually shouted, “NOOOOOOOOO!”  in the very same moment that I received a face full of projectile vomit… and it went right into my O shaped mouth!

I spun around on my heel and ran to the bathroom, but I didn’t make it.  I threw up on myself as I crossed the threshold of the shower.  Since I was now covered with two forms of puke, I decided to just turn the shower on and start cleaning myself while fully clothed.  I just couldn’t bring myself to pull a dirty t-shirt over my head.  I stood in the shower crying while Lucy sat in her puddle of vomit on my bed also crying.  My husband woke up at this point… yeah, just now… and surveyed the shock-and-awe with horror in his eyes.  “What do you want me to do?” he meekly asked.  I didn’t even know where to begin.

So this was the last time that I had to actually stick my hand behind the toilet to clean back there.  I am thankful that those moments don’t come around very often.  If they did, I would definitely consider going on strike and demanding more money for this job.  Motherhood is not for the weak stomached nor for the heavy sleepers… that job is called Fatherhood.

How can anyone hold THIS all together?

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A while ago I got an email from a friend of mine in Montana who wondered if I needed more ammo for my “Gross Mommy Stories”.   She sent me this tale of her own personal version of the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day.  Seriously, under these conditions how could any mother be expected to hold it all together.  Don’t even mention being “Christ-like”  I’m sure Christ never had to clean up so many bodily fluids in one day.  So here’s Noelle’s family scene:

Gizelle got up fairly early this morning.  Mark just let her go out and watch some TV, but didn’t change her diaper.  When I got up almost 2 hourrs later, I found her in Addie’s room, and she was starting to take off her jammies.  She was taking them off because she had just peed through everything and it must’ve felt quite uncomfortable.  I couldn’t believe the puddle of urine on Addie’s carpet! Ugh!  (she’s been on an antibiotic for 10 days, so it smells SUPER gross!)  So, I got out the vinegar, towels, etc and spent quite a while cleaning carpet.

Next I watch Addie walk right into Gizelle’s cashew’s which are nicely placed on the floor in the middle of footpath (I just vacuumed, and washed that floor last night).  Sigh.

shoes2Then I took the kids on a long walk/ride/run.  Almost 2 hrs later,  we are finally on our street, when Ezekiel announces he has to use the restroom. Super, we’re almost home, so I tell him to go on ahead and use the restroom.  I dilly-dally and talk to our neighbors, then walk on home.  When I get home he’s outside playing, but he suddenly runs inside FAST.  A few minutes I go inside and see him in his room putting on different shorts.  Didn’t think much of it, because he loves to change into his swimsuit any chance he gets.  Then I go into the bathroom and see the pile of wet shorts, underwear and a HUGE puddle in the corner of the floor! I have no clue how he had that much in his bladder!!  Of course, I had also just scrubbed the bathrooms and the floors on my hands and knees last night as well.  Why didn’t he go straight home and nicely use the restroom!  I asked him about said mess and he said “I peed UP and it did that”… hmmm?  What does THAT mean?  (Please don’t laugh at that last comment, because he doesn’t deserve any mercy yet).

Next I take a quick shower because I want to go to Garden of Readin for a book signing for Janice Thompson.  It ends at 2pm, and it’s 12:54 when I get in the shower, so time to CRUISE!  I get out, get dressed and then work on getting everyone clothed.  I tell everyone to get in the car and get seat belts on.  Then notice Gizelle has a yucky, full diaper.  So I put her on the toilet and run to get her clothes.  I’m ready to go with only a few minutes to spare.  When I go out, I see that nobody is in the car with their seatbelts on.  

bubble-catcher_lCaleb’s driving the JEEP around and I tell him to stop now please.  He continues driving, so I tell him louder to “stop please!” Still ignores me, so I go tell him to go into him room.  I give him a swat for both disobedience with not getting in the car and not stopping the JEEP.  He’s already been disciplined today because he was being so unkind all day!  He stomps off and shoves his hand at the door in a huff,  Well, his height is a bit “wrong” for that screen door because when he pushed his hand hard into the door, his hand went right threw the glass!!!! He just broke our front door!  The door popped back at him since his hand went threw it and hit him on the face.  He got a little bloody nose!  So he was really crying hard (mostly scared about all the shattered glass around him)  No cuts on his hands or anything.  

In the end, I took all 4 kids with me because Mark needed to do some chain-sawing and thought it best to NOT be supervising kids while doing that.  With the way our day was going, I thought this was a VERY good idea.

spilt-tea-1_lSo, we made it to the book signing, then I took the kids to Safeway because we still have some Starbucks cards from Easter.  I thought it’d be fun to have a little drink and get a couple sandwiches for the kids to share since nobody really had lunch yet.  We get our drinks, then grab some sandwiches from the deli.  I tell them they can choose a box of fruit snacks.  So as we’re heading that way, Caleb drops his whole hot chocolate!! What a mess! Then Zekers promptly drops his cup into the mess too!  As I bend down to get his cup, my keys fly out of my purse into the puddle as well.  UGH!  So we humbly apologize to the nice lady who comes to clean up the mess, choose some fruit snacks, the go to the check-out.  Where AGAIN Ezekiel drops his hot chocolate.  He’s always quick to say “I didn’t spill ALL of it though!” (no he has a little more he can save to spill in the car)  I told the lady at check-out that I’ll try to hurry up and get us out of the store as fast as possible!

Addie had her own money with her, so I let her buy herself a little treat at Safeway.  When we get home, she was in the new room on the new rug.  She started jumping up and down on a dance-mat-type of thing, and proceeded to spill all the powder-sugar stuff from her candy on the new rug!  It sure smelled sweet in there!  So, I got to take out my lovely vacuum and clean up all the glass in the front entry and all Addie’s powdered sugar stuff in the rug.  

Just before dinner, I asked Addie to take all the toys off the dinner table.  She kept the book she was reading in her hand and tried to lift the huge pile of toys off the table.  It landed on her foot.  I hate it that I had so little empathy for that when she didn’t decide to put her book down first!  She was crying so hard and looking at me like “don’t you CARE!?!?”  ummm… I wish you would’ve put down your book first…

This is just the list of spills and drops today- there were so many more whines, disobediences, fights, and frustrating moments that I couldn’t even begin to write down… and thankfully I’ve mostly forgotten all of them already now that everyone’s in bed, clean after baths, and sleeping peacefully and sweetly. 

It feels so hard and exhausting trying to keep up and provide a comfortable, clean environment for our kids- not to mention a peaceful and happy home as well.  Wow, do I ever need the Lord’s grace and peace daily.  He’s so good and patient with me.  I never thought I’d have to ask forgiveness so much!  

Aren’t we so much like our own children in the house of God the Father?  We make messes, break things, disobey, bicker, whine, and basically act like… children.  Yet our Father God has infinite patience and forgiveness for our childish ways.  We love you Lord and thank you for your Grace.

 Photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/rayani/2672808893/”>Rayani Melo</a> / <a href=”http://foter.com”>Foter.com</a&gt; / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>CC BY-NC-ND</a>

Photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/kubina/185188456/”>Jeff Kubina</a> / <a href=”http://foter.com”>Foter.com</a&gt; / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>CC BY-SA</a>

Photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/carowallis1/303633288/”>Caro Wallis</a> / <a href=”http://foter.com/Food/”>Foter.com</a&gt; / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>CC BY-NC-ND</a>

Losing ourselves and loving it

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It is time to revive a theme:  Gross Mommy stories.  Today’s horror story comes to you directly from the bowels of Costa Rica in the lovely town of Atenas.  Missionary friends of ours live out there with their brood of kids and their dog Lucy.  I hope your breakfast has already digested.  

This morning started out normally enough: early to rise, breakfast of homemade banana bread, the juiciest of pineapples, and yogurt (keep this menu in mind as I proceed). The kids had just finished clearing their morning dishes from the table, and Brody and Ashlyn had headed out to lounge in the hammock in the backyard till school started. I was at the sink washing dishes, which so happens to be a chore I don’t mind one bit.

As I watched the two littles perform their normal kid antics, I heard Ashlyn’s voice, full of shock, yell, “What’s Lucy doing?” I looked up and out the window above the sink to see Lucy squatting to accomplish her morning duty in the backyard. What I failed to miss at first glance was what Ashlyn’s sharp little eyes had spied. “Oh mom,” she screamed, “I’m going to throw up!”

I emptied my hands and leaned forward in an attempt to get a better look at what was so horrifying about Lucy’s very normal activity. It was then that I glimpsed it, the very non-typical neon green string, that was very much NOT a normal part of this normal dog activity. Within moments, Lucy seemed to finish up, and quickly began to jaunt away from the scene of the crime. As she did so, something stretched from her backside toward the ground. As her distance from the scene increased, so did the tension in the neon green string. Now taut, something attached to this green string jumped from the ground and slapped the unsuspecting Lucy on the haunches.

Commence the dry heaves and wretches that so often proceed an all out vomit fest…from both Brody and Ashlyn. As Lucy ran, helter skelter, to escape whatever was pursuing her and slapping her as she ran, Brody and Ashlyn came rushing toward the back door threatening to evacuate their stomachs. Ashlyn made it further than Brody, who ended up losing his just-eaten breakfast on the threshold of the back door. I heard Ashlyn make it around the corner into the hallway and it was there that I heard the tell tale splatters on the tile floor.

As I rushed to assist Brody at the back door, Lucy met me as she continued her attempted escape from the neon green assailant. And then the horror, oh the horror! The duet that met me on the threshold was the thing nightmares are made of. Brody, still in the midst of projectile vomiting, with Lucy standing beside him, soiled, neon green sticky frog glued to her side, string still trailing from somewhere deep inside.


It is worth mentioning that for the last few weeks I have had Proverbs 31:25 up on my fridge, as a constant reminder to myself, “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come” (NIV).

Touché, Lord, for in that very moment I began laughing like never before. I was laughing so hard that big ol’ tears streamed down my face. Meanwhile the retching and vomiting continued in surround sound, Brody before me and Ashlyn behind. All the while Lucy tried to make a mad dash into the house to hide under the kitchen table.

I did all I knew to do in that moment. I shut the back doors. I shut the doors. And I laughed. Oh, did I ever laugh. The situation was unbelievable. Truly, truly, truly unfathomable. Oh if only I could have kept that door shut and not faced the reality of what awaited me on the other side: the clean up and the extrication of the stretchy green frog from the backside of our dog.

My one-day-a-week house helper snapped me from my reverie of insanity, having come running in alarm at what must have sounded like nothing short of pure pandemonium. I retold the story the best I could through giggles, snorts, and dripping eyes. You should have seen Liliana’s face. I saw shock, horror, alarm, hilarity, disgust, and a whole other gamut of emotions pass over her face as I spoke Spanish words I’ve yet to use together, recto (rectum), jugette elastico (elastic toy), pegado (stuck), and vomitando (vomiting). Sweet lady she is, she half-whispered that she would help. “No,” I told her, “no, this is my job.”

I’ll save you the details of untangling the stretchy poo-covered frog from Lucy’s long fur. I’ll also save you the details of the extraction of the string from her innards (suffice it to say that stretching, poo, and being slapped in the hand, rubber-band fashion, were involved). I’ll save you the details of the vomit clean up. I’ll save you the details of the smell. Lawdy, the smell!

Horrific as it all was, this is one story to remember. Epic in portion, outlandish in details, and like no other story I’ve ever heard. Indeed, “these are the days I’ll remember” (cue the 10,000 Maniacs song)!

You can read more of their crazy, wild adventures in missions and life over seas at Jennie’s blog “Losing ourselves and loving it”.