Tag Archives: family

Happy Fathers’ Day

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For Fathers’ Day I made a pan of home made brownies for Josh.  I hope he shares them with the rest of us.  🙂  We have another team here now, so tomorrow I will be feeding about 50 people at my house.  We’re grilling, ’cause that’s what Dads like to do, right?  Grilling 50+ hamburgers.  Josh will be happy because he’s the grill master AND the house will be full of people… two things he loves.  Happy Fathers’ Day everyone.  Here’s a little “gift” from a fb friend who posted this yesterday.  Good stuff!  Blessings!

Yes, she’s Mexican and yes, she’s supposed to be that color.

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In the hospital, we were all excited to finally have our little Lulu in the family. Notice that they didn't give me a hospital gown. They told me to change back into my own clothes. Weird.

Today is the 5th birthday of our daughter Lucy, our little Mexicana.  Lucy was born on Labor Day, May 1st in Mexico City.  When I tried to explain the pun that I was in labor on Labor Day, it just didn’t translate well.  My friends just smiled politely at me.

Having a baby in a foreign country was the biggest set-up for culture shock that anyone can experience, in my humble opinion.  It was like having a baby in the 1950s with all the modern technology of the 2000s.  I was totally unprepared for my own intense reactions to “the way things are done” in my new country.  Maybe it was the pregnancy hormones, maybe I was just at the brink of “losing it”.  It’s not an experience I recommend to anyone.  I was just glad that I had done this before in America.  I knew what was medically necessary and what was just local traditions imported into a modern medical facility.

The hospital we chose was one of the best private hospitals in Mexico City, and really, they had all the most modern equipment anyone could want… it’s just that not everyone knew how to use it!  For example, my doctor who had studied in America for a while and finished his degree in Spain, had a new 3D ultrasound machine right in his office.  For each visit, I received a DVD with a copy of his ultrasound exam for that week.  It was really cool… but I quickly got the feeling that he didn’t really know how to read the thing and was just playing with his new toy- testing out new features of the machine each week.  It was amusing, but it didn’t raise any red flags yet.

My first hint that this was not going to be the smooth sailing that I planned was when we had our final visit before our due date arrived.  Sitting in his office he said to me, “So, do you want me to do anything else while I’m in there, like tie your tubes or give you a tummy tuck?”  I sat there with a blank look on my face as I contemplated, “how the heck to you do THAT from THAT angle?”  Not that I was opposed to a tummy tuck, but that’s when it occurred to me that we were talking apples and oranges here.  Apparently in our socio-economic class ALL women schedule a cesarean birth, for the convenience of everyone involved and for the esthetics of being bikini ready just days after birth.  I said, “What do you think you’re going to be doing IN THERE?  You just show up and catch the baby- I’ll do all the work.”  Because he was eager to please his only American patient, he nervously consented.

The night that I went into labor, my doctor was on a plane returning from a conference in San Francisco, California.  He begged me to hold on until he arrived at the hospital.  I obliged.  We met him at the hospital and though he was cheerful (and a bit more excited than I expected a doctor to be) he scolded me a bit.  “See this is why we schedule it, so the doctor doesn’t miss it.”  I thought, “I’m sure I could have managed this without you.”

I DID like my doctor though.  When he was in the room, I was sure to get my own way on every detail.  I wasn’t a diva about the whole thing, but I knew that certain things were not necessary so I refused to consent to them- you do not need to be totally naked nor shaved anywhere in order to give birth naturally.  Then I would hear the nurses in the hall way complaining loudly.  When the doctor left the room, the fear of the nurses gripped my heart.  It really is the nurses that kill you or keep you alive.  I knew that.

Sparing the details, at the hour of delivery I had to point blank tell everyone that I wanted my husband in the room with me- so MAKE IT HAPPEN NOW!  They balked, I threw out my trump card:  That’s how we do it in America.  So Josh was suited up and ushered into the room just moments before the anesthesiologist leaned down to me and asked, “do you remember how to push?”  I smiled and said, “watch me.”  I asked the doctor if he was ready on his end and in one push, Lucy popped out.  When my doctor said “WOW!” very loudly, I wondered if this was the first time he had ever seen that done before.

I didn’t get to hold Lucy, they showed her to me and then whisked her off to the nursery and threw me into a recovery room all by myself.  After about an hour I decided I wanted my baby and started asking for her.  About 6 hours later, someone brought her to me.  I kept saying, “I want to nurse her”  and they insisted that I didn’t make any milk yet.  I counter-insisted, “bring me a baby and I’ll show you!”  What they meant was, women in your social class don’t nurse their babies.

At some point the nurses wrapped my stomach and my legs in very tight ace bandages.  I wondered if they could see that I didn’t have any stitches on my stomach… and the legs, well, if I didn’t die of a blood clot then I would surely succumb to heat stroke!  When my feet swelled up and turned purple I took off the bandages.  My nurse about had an INFARTO (heart attack).  I just persisted in telling them that I don’t want them or need them so quit worrying about those dumb bandages!  What they were telling me was that women in my class care very much about looking skinny.

The nurses also told me that Lucy was looking a little pale and I should lay her in the sun.  I told them, “I’m a white woman- this is the color of white babies.”  I couldn’t wrap my brain around that one.  I just shrugged.

In addition to all of this, a lawyer came to our room and filled out the paperwork for Lucy’s birth certificate.  That was very convenient for us, but she was terribly confused when we didn’t want to give Lucy the traditional Mexican last name of father’s family name + mother’s family name.  We debated and then stuck to our guns, we are Americans, she will have an American first, middle, and last name.  It about threw that poor lawyer into a fit.

Later in the day, I found myself all alone in the room.  There was a knock at the door and in walked a tiny woman in a Catholic nun’s habit.  She asked me if I would like to take The Lord’s Supper (Communion).  Being a Christian, I knew what that this was part of the Catholic heritage of Mexico, but it was also part of MY religious heritage too.  I gladly accepted.  She gave me the elements (a tiny cracker an a plastic cup of juice), said a prayer and then I took over.  I grabbed her by the arms and burst out in worship to the Lord- the Spirit just took over me!  I started praying in the Spirit.  This poor woman was clearly shocked and overwhelmed by what I was doing.  But I couldn’t help it, I worshipped.  When I released her arms, she left the room shaking from head to toe.

I needed that moment with God to sustain me for the rest of my time in the hospital.

The next day and a half was filled with more new Spanish vocabulary than my sleep deprived brain could absorb.  Hospitals come with their own language and if you don’t know what a Tamiz is (a lab exam for the baby) or a Dia de Alto (discharge day) then you won’t learn those words any faster when someone yells them at you like you are deaf.  Speaking louder and faster does not explain the definitions.

Eventually I broke down and cried, “I just want to go home!  Someone bring me my baby and let’s get out of here”  After hours and hours of asking the nurses to bring Lucy to me, we finally called the head nurse to our room and asked what the hold up was.  Apparently, no one had told us that we must PAY FOR OUR BABY before we would be allowed to have her back.  Josh had to find the person who had our hospital bill, go down to the administrative office and pay the bill, return to the nursery and show the head nurse the receipt, THEN they would start the check list to discharge me and the baby.  No one had explained this to us.  It did not occur to one person that we did not know the hospital procedures.  Not one person bothered to explain step by step what was required of us.  Live and learn.

Even if someone had warned me in advance that this would be a traumatic experience, I think I would have believed that I could handle it.  The next few months were filled with more culture shock moments than I could have anticipated.  Being a new parent in a foreign country means opening yourself up to all kinds of “helpful” advice and vicious criticism.  You will never “do it right” in the eyes of others if you “do it” the American way.  It’s amazing to me just how much culture is subconsciously packed into the theme of parenting.  But that, my readers, is for another blog another time.
She is a child with dual citizenship.  She is a “Third Culture Kid“.  We have had more trouble than you would imagine crossing borders with this child who looks American but whose passport says she was born Mexican.  It’s just a difficult concept to grasp when the color of the kid is “wrong”.  But through this whole crazy experience, our family was blessed with our Bonus Baby Lucy who is turning 5 today.  It’s hard to believe that we have all survived this long.  🙂  My baby is growing up.  We love you Lucy Lu!

Our friends Nely and Izi visit Lucy on her first day home. We violated tons of cultural rules within the first few weeks of her life. It's amazing the child didn't die of a draft! :0)

Stand up to Bullies

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Don’t be intimidated.  Eventually everything is going to be out in the open, and everyone will know how things really are.  So don’t hesitate to go public now.

Don’t be bluffed into silence by the threats of bullies.  There’s nothing they can do to your soul, your core being.  Save your fear for God, who holds your entire life- body and soul- in his hands…

Stand up for me against world opinions and I’ll stand up for you before my Father in heaven.  If you turn tail and run, do you think I’ll cover for you?

Don’t think I’ve come to make life cozy.  I’ve come to cut– make a sharp knife cut between son and father, daughter and mother, bride and mother-in-law– cut through these cozy domestic arrangements and free you for God.  Well meaning family members can be your worst enemies.  If you prefer father or mother over me, you don’t deserve me.  If you prefer son or daughter over me, you don’t deserve me.

If you don’t go all the way with me, through thick and thin, you don’t deserve me.  If your first concern is to look after yourself, you’ll never find yourself.  But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you’ll find both yourself and me.

We are intimately linked in this harvest work.  Anyone who accepts what you do, accepts me, the One who sent you… This is a large work I’ve called you into, but don’t be overwhelmed by it.  It’s best to start small.  Give a cool cup of water to someone who is thirsty, for instance.  The smallest act of giving or receiving make you a true apprentice.  You won’t lose out on a thing.

……………………………………………………………………….~Jesus

The Message Version,  Matthew 10

The difference between Dad’s Way and Mom’s Way: or How my husband won a trip to Europe.

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This morning I left the house at 6am and arrived back home at 5:30pm.  The kids were in Dad’s care all day long.  Walking in the house I thought possibly a Midwestern tornado had struck us.  Josh and the two girls were cuddled on the couch watching an old episode of Wipe Out and the boy was no where to be found (he’s a teenager, he hides in his room a lot.).  Not only was the house a disaster, but the water had been turned off all day long because the city was doing some work on a main line.  This left all the toilets full of WWII carnage.  I gagged when I walked in.

“So, what did you guys do all day while I was gone?”  They informed me that they watched a few movies.  I looked around surveying the wreckage of movie watching.  The dinning room table was lost under papers and clothes from the girls’ room, the dog dishes were empty, there were crumbs over every surface of the living room.  Pillows and blankets were strewn in the ruins of a fort.  The dishes were piled high (which can’t be blamed since there was no water.).  The mountain of shoes behind the door had grown feet and walked into the living room.  Upstairs the load of laundry I had dropped on the bedroom floor at 5:45am was untouched and the bed was unmade.  Children’s books and blankies cluttered our bedroom.  I walked back to the kitchen, ignoring the mess, and started making dinner.

**Sigh**.  Welcome home Mom.  We missed you, now get back to work.

Mom’s way is different than Dad’s way.  When I’m home with the kids, the house ends up clean again by the end of the day because I can multitask.  Chores get done and the kids are cared for at the same time.  When Dad watched the kids, I’m just thankful that everyone is still present and accounted for at the end of the day.  Dad’s Way is just different.

Daddy and the girls eating popcorn and watching TV

This reminds me of the time that my husband won a trip to Europe.

For Christmas one year, Josh surprised me with a plane ticket to Prague, Czech Republic.  I had always wanted to go there and that year a friend of mine was teaching English in that city.  Josh had secretly made plans with my friend to surprise me with a trip to visit her.  I was totally thrilled on one hand, and a bit confused on the other hand.  Why didn’t he buy a ticket for himself too?  If it was because we didn’t have the money for two tickets, I didn’t want to seem ungrateful.  If it was because he wanted to spend a week of quality time with our two young children, I didn’t want to take that from him.  But I really would have preferred to travel with my husband.  So I bided my time until I could discern the reason why he only bought one ticket.  And I worried.

Secretly I worried about leaving Josh alone with a 1-year old and a 6-year old for an entire week, and for good reason.

A few nights later I spent the evening bathing the children and getting them ready for bed while Josh sat on the couch like a lump and watched Monday Night Football.  I wanted to take a relaxing bath myself.  So I handed the wet, towel-swaddled toddler to Josh while he sat on the couch barely conscious.  I handed him a diaper and PJs and said, “I’m going to relax in the bath, don’t interrupt me unless someone is bleeding.”  No response from Dad.

A few seconds into my bath I hear a sickening thud followed by intense screaming from our toddler.  She had fallen off a bed and knocked her head on the wooden floor… but no blood, so I didn’t come out of the bathroom.  “I’ll let Dad handle this,” I decided.  A half an hour later I exited the bathroom and was greeted by a naked baby with a sucker in her mouth and red sticky stuff all round her face.

I scooped up the child and carried her to her father.  “What is this?  Why is she eating candy right before bed?  Look, she’s all sticky!  I just bathed her!  And why is she still naked?”  The only response I received to my inquisition was, “She brought it to me, so I opened it.”  Obviously.

Another sigh.  I again scooped up the naked, sticky child and headed towards her darkened bedroom.  With my hands full, I did not turn on the light.  Big mistake.  Suddenly I slipped on something tube shaped, warm and squishy.  “What on Earth?  Did he give her a banana too?”  I thought.  I quickly turned on the lights and to my utter horror I saw my bare footprint in a pile of poo on the bedroom floor!  I gagged.  Dad had let the baby run around naked after her bath and she had pooped on the floor while he sat catatonic in front of the football game.  I was furious!!  There was a very minimal reaction from Dad.  “She didn’t smell poopy.”  No, it looks like it was a clean drop!

Later that night, I carefully brought up the subject of Prague.  Without directly saying, “I fear for my kids’ lives if I leave them with you for a week.”  I asked Josh what he thought about me asking my mom to watch the kids so he could come to Prague with me.  He was absolutely elated… I secretly think the whole “inept at diapering the child” thing was just a ploy to get to come with me to Europe.  Well it worked. And my children are all still alive, thanks to my Mom.  She knows the Mom Way too.

I give my kids Tylenol. Can I call myself a doctor?

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I hope nobody takes this blog post wrongly.  I am not trying to brag about myself or to put anyone down.  I’m not trying to be negative, I’m just expressing a frustration that most of my co-workers in the foreign mission field also feel.  These are my true feelings and thoughts.  I’m being honest.

It’s a really popular thing in churches now days to throw around the word “missionary” and to apply it to many different contexts.  For example, some people say “my office is my mission field” or “I am a missionary in my school.”  This kind of rubs me the wrong way.  I don’t deny that these places are full of people who need to hear about Jesus.  And I don’t deny that Jesus gave the Great Commission to all Christians (Matthew 28:19 “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”).  And I don’t deny that it can be hard to be a light in the darkness.  But these uses of the word “missionary” kind of bother me because, you see, I AM a missionary.  A real missionary.  I have taken the “go” in that verse to literally mean “go to the nations.”  It’s more than my occupation, it’s my entire life.

As a real missionary I have made decisions for my own life that have ripped through my family.  I chose to go, so my kids have come with me.  And that decision tore the heart out of my parents who had to say good-bye to their grand kids.  That decision impacted the aunties and uncles and cousins and sisters and brothers that we left behind too.  You see, I’ve made the hard choices that a missionary makes when she loves God more than she loves her family.

As a real missionary, I have spent YEARS learning the language.  I have put in the hours of hard study.  I have laid down my own desires and submitted myself to another culture, another way of thinking, and another way of communicating.  I have been stripped bare of my own identity.  The “missionary” who just walks across the street to be a witness to his neighbor will never be required to make the same kind of investment.  I have done the hard work to become a missionary.

As a real missionary, I have sold all my possessions (except a few boxes of treasures and memories) and made an international move MORE THAN ONCE.  I sold the rocking chair that I rocked my babies in.  I watched my dishes walk out the door.  I put my electronics in the hands of a garage sale shopper on a Saturday morning.  I spread all my possessions across my lawn for my neighbors to pick through.  I looked at the pitiful wad of dollar bills and quarters that I accumulated in exchange for all my worldly possessions and I knew, despairingly, that this pittance would not cover the cost to repurchase these things overseas.  It was going to cost me something more to reestablish a home in a foreign country.

As a real missionary, I have swallowed my pride over and over again to ask churches for money.  We need support to do what we do.  To an American, this feels like begging.  I didn’t like it.  It can be humiliating, but this is the way our organization is run.  So week after week we would “shlep” our presentation table around the state like a traveling salesman.  We have done the leg work to earn our support as missionaries.

We have made the sacrifices to earn the title “missionary”, so to hear others appropriate the title for themselves when they haven’t made those same hard sacrifices kind of bothers me.  It’s like me giving my kids Tylenol and then calling myself a Doctor.  I didn’t work for that title.  I didn’t pay for that title.  I didn’t invest my life in becoming a doctor, so when I rob the Doctor of his title I also rob him of his earned respect.  I am not a Doctor.  I am a mother with an eye dropper full of over-the-counter pain-killer.

In the same way that I am not a Doctor, I’m also not a super hero.  I don’t expect great honor.  I don’t want to be put on a pedestal.  I don’t want to hear the praise of men.  I’m not fishing for compliments or pats on the back.  The only thing I am dying to hear from my heavenly Father is, “Well done, good and faithful servant.  Here’s your eternal home… and you never have to move again.”

Matthew 28:19 “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

Quit feeding these kids! (They’re getting too big.)

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I’ve probably said it a thousand times, “These kids have got to stop growing!”  You don’t realize how much your own kids have changed because you see them every day.  But you notice when other people’s kids are growing.  We went back to Minnesota for Christmas this year.  We haven’t been home in a year and a half.  Aside from the shock of the temperature difference between Costa Rica and Minnesota, I was totally shocked at how big all my nieces and nephews had grown in 18 months.  Everyone came to the airport to greet us.  When we walked through the security doors all these tall, gangly teenagers came running down the hall at us!

It reminded me of when I take my dog to the groomers.  I always tell them to cut Nacho’s hair very short because shih-tzus are long haired dogs.  It buys me time between visits to the “Peluqueria”.  Every time they bring out my freshly shorn pup I don’t recognize him.  But he seems really happy to see me, so this must be my dog.  I take him home and in a few days I again recognize my own dog.  The change is just so shocking at first!

Well it was the same with my nieces and nephews.  I didn’t recognize these kids.  But they seemed really happy to see me, so they must be my family.  In a few days it wasn’t so weird that most of them are taller than me now.  And I was once again recognizing my own family members.  The change was just so shocking at first.  I told them all to quit growing so I don’t have to go through this again when we come back next time.  I doubt they’ll listen to me.

“Doctor, heal thyself.”

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Memorial Day in the back yard with family

I was a grown adult squeezed into a child’s school desk.  (You know, those desks with the table part attached to an arm attached to the seat?)  I pretended to examine the names carved into the desk top while I listened uncomfortably to the couple sitting next to me.  We were all there to be “debriefed” upon our reentry into America after serving as missionaries in far off countries.  The couple next to me was serving in China.  As I listened to the husband speak, I felt them shutting down and closing off and retreating into themselves.  His voice crackled with hostility, “I don’t know why we have to reconnect with our friends and family.  We’ve just going to be leaving them again once our budget is raised.  Why go through all that work if it’s just going to be temporary?”  I understood what he was saying- it’s going to hurt to say good bye all over again.  I understood.

In our missions organization, the majority of us are on a 4-year-out-1-year-home cycle.  After a while, it’s easy to forget where your home really is.  That year back in the states is mainly for fund raising for the next 4 years, but nearly everyone comes “home” beaten and battered, worn out and raw emotionally and spiritually.  And no one wants to admit it to anyone outside of our circle of co-workers.  It might look bad to our supporting churches.  We might look weak.  “Doctor, heal thyself,” we fear someone might say to us.

I saw this weakness in me, and I listened to the recommendation of the counselors in the debriefing sessions.  I knew I needed to do the work of reconnecting with my friends and family while I was back home.  But I also knew there was a painful parting up ahead.  I took the plunge anyways.  And I’m glad I did.

Backyard water fight

During our year (and a half thanks to medical issues) home I made several decisions that would guard and heal and refortify my family to let us put down roots again.  First of all, we chose to live close to our relatives (more about that in a minute).  Second of all, we chose to put our kids in the same private school that their cousins went to.  This was an out-of-pocket expense for us, but we felt it was important for our kids to be close to their cousins again.  Frankly, this turned out to be the best decision we could have made for them.  Third of all, I chose not to travel with my husband so much during this fund raising cycle.  In the past, we had traveled as a family all over the Midwest, home schooling along the way.  I decided that we would only travel on the weekends, and only if we could be home for the kids to go to school on Monday mornings. We did not travel midweek at all.  This decision meant that our kids could be involved in age appropriate activities at a home church during the week.  My son got involved in a youth group, my middle daughter joined a Bible Quiz team, and my baby girl made nursery friends at a Mom’s group on Wednesday mornings.  We put down roots, even though we knew they would be pulled up again.

In addition to these roots, I made a concerted effort to “carpe diem” every coffee date and luncheon I could arrange with my old friends.  Knowing the time was short made it all the more urgent and important to get something on the calendar with all the people I love from my past.  Knowing that I was leaving again made it all the more precious to me.  I wanted to listen to their stories of their kids growing up.  I wanted to hear about the changes that have occurred in the last 4 years in my circle of friends.  I wanted to feel a part of a group again.  In turn, they listened to some of my stories, reaffirmed their love towards me, and reconfirmed that I still have a place in their hearts.  Those were some of the healing elements that needed to be applied to my dry, thirsty soul.  My roots could once again draw up life into my soul.

Back yard fun with the cousins

The last rooting measure I took was to fortify my tap root- to reconnect with my family.  I am so glad that we chose to live close by and to get involved in their church because it meant that I saw my parents (and the kids saw their grandparents) weekly.  I remember once my dad mentioned that he was craving baklava.  I went home and whipped up a pan of the heavenly dessert.  I got in the car and drove the 10 minutes to my parents’ house to surprise my dad with a pan of baklava… just because I love him.  It was so worth it to me to live close to them so I could do the little acts of love that we had missed during the last 4 years.  To be able celebrate birthdays and holidays together, to drop in unannounced, and to sit in the back yard together was more soul-nurishing than I would have imagined when we were sitting in those desks back in the reentry debriefing session.  The counselor was right, we ALL needed this.  We all needed to put our roots back into our native soul even though it was just for a season.  We all needed to be healed.

The Most Superlative

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Hello Everyone, Grammar Nazi here to give you a quick lesson on Superlative Adjectives.  An adjective is a word that describes a noun (person, place or thing) and the superlative form is the most extreme form of the adjective that you can find.  Most superlative adjectives end in -est, if the root word has one syllable or if it is a two syllable word ending in -y.  For example: big – biggest, pretty – prettiest.  With root words of two or more syllables, you add “most” to make the superlative.  For example:  intelligent – most intelligent.  Two major exceptions are the words good – the best, and bad – the worst.  Remember,

Good, Better, Best.  

Never let it rest,

’till your good is better and your better is the best!

Now aren’t you all glad you stayed in school, kids?

I don’t know if anyone has ever described me using superlatives.  And I’m not a competitive person, so I have never actively striven for superlative status.  In order to find a superlative that suits me, I would have to reduce my field of comparison considerably because there will always be someone out there who is better than me.  Records are broken all the time!  The superlative is a slippery fish to hold on to.

So just for the fun of it, I am going to compare myself to other family members.  But I am not the funniest in my family.  That trophy would have to be shared by my Uncle Russell and my sister Aimee.  Both of them can cause my laughter to dissolve into tears when they get wound up.  Neither am I the most educated in my family, that would go to my Dad who is just months away from receiving his doctorate in the ancient Greek manuscripts of the Gospel of John.  Which reminds me that even through I am bilingual, I am also not the most linguistic in the family. My Dad knows ancient Greek and Hebrew, a pretty good chunk of Latin, can hold his own in Spanish, and muddle along a bit in German… but don’t ask him to pass the butter, because he will  probably forget the word in his mother-tongue, English.  (That’s a family joke.)  I am, in my opinion, not the prettiest in my family.  That honor would go to my Mother who is still often confused for my sister when we go shopping together.  She also has the prettiest teeth I’ve ever seen, movies stars pay big money for teeth like hers… and she’s never had braces!  (Why couldn’t I get her genes??)  And finally, I’m not the most athletic nor the most coordinated.  My athlete husband just laughs at my clumsiness.  (Wait!  I might be the clumsiest in my family!)

So even though I will never be the superlative of anything, I compete against myself, in a way, and try to improve what I do have going for me.  I try to become better and better and what I do and who I am as a person.  I am constantly practicing to improve character flaws that I detect.  I am forever working on strengthening my weaknesses.  I fight the good fight and press on for bigger and better things on a personal level and spiritual level.  Though it’s likely that no one will ever describe me using superlatives, I am striving to be the best ME that I can be.  And that’s all anyone can ask of each of us.

“Flee from all sin, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.  Fight the good fight of faith.  Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called…”  1 Timothy 6:11-12

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!

Well I’m not June Cleaver

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Well I’m not June Cleaver, but I might be able to pull this off anyhow.  This is a goal to strive for and an image to grow into.  This is my version of the famous Perfect Wife in Proverbs 31.

It’s hard to find the perfect wife!  She is worth far more than jewels.  Her husband depends on her.  He will never be poor.  She does good for her husband all her life.  She never speaks disparagingly about him to others.  She never shames him.

She is always gathering necessary supplies and enjoys making things with her hands.  She’s creative and resourceful.  She is like a ship from a faraway place.  She brings home food from everywhere.  She wakes up early in the morning, and cooks food for her family (or at least makes sure there’s cereal in the house).

She’s a working woman.  She has a good head for money and business matters.  She looks at land and buys it.  She understands savings and investments, and is responsible with her money.  She works very hard.  She is strong and able to do all her work.  She works late into the night to make sure her business earns a profit.  She is very industrious and resourceful.

She always gives to the poor and helps those who need it.  She doesn’t let fear make her stingy or self centered.  She plans ahead.  She does not worry about her family when winter comes.  She has given them all good, warm clothes.  She makes sure all the beds in her home are warm and comfortable.  She’s not frumpy, but she takes care of herself and her appearance.  She knows how to dress herself and her children well.

Her husband is a respected man and a leader wherever he works.  She knows how to talk with business men and associates.  She is a strong person, and people respect her.  She looks to the future with confidence.  Because of her planning, she can laugh at the days to come.  She speaks with wisdom and teaches others to be loving and kind.  People listen to what she has to say.

She oversees the care of her house, assigning chores to the children and working hard herself.  She is never lazy.  Her children say good things about her.  Her husband brags about her and says, “There are many good women, but you are the best.”  Grace and charm can fool you. Beauty is only skin deep and won’t last forever, but a woman who respects the Lord should be praised.  She deserves public recognition for all that she’s done!  Give her applause and honor!