Monthly Archives: March 2010

How it’s “supposed” to be

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Isn’t it amazing how many things in life are “supposed to be” a certain way? Home-making, marriage, pregnancy, church, Christianity, missions, family… the list could go on forever. Allow me to tackle just a few on the list.

Family is “supposed to be” a great big happy thing! Right? No one ever disagrees, no one owes anyone else money, everyone is interested in each other’s lives (but of course not overly-nosey), we all support and encourage each other in our dreams and endeavors, in-laws are just another extension of immediate family, and we all spend every holiday together. Blissfully playing games and eating way too much yummy food. Does that describe your family? I’ve had a few discussions with several friends recently. We all seem to be suffering from the same disillusioned thought: “family isn’t supposed to be like this…” And yet no one has ever known a family that is exactly what it’s “supposed to be.” I guess this is related to un-met expectations on many levels. But I’ve found that many times, dealing with what is “supposed to be” is not usually dealing with your own expectations, but someone else’s. The first two examples of this that pop into my mind are 1.) Christianity and 2.) Missions.

I would imagine that if you gathered 20 people in a room and took a poll regarding Christianity, you’d have 20 different opinions on what a Christian is supposed to look like. Only God knows what combination of those opinions is truly correct. If you are a Christian, you are responsible to be and act like and look exactly like the person that God has laid on *your* heart. No one else’s. If you feel that it’s wrong for *you* to wear makeup or cut your hair short or wear jeans, then by all means. Avoid it like the plague. But for you to presume to tell anyone else that’s it’s wrong for *them* to wear makeup, cut their hair or wear jeans, means that you are attempting to take God’s position in the conviction department. I really don’t think He appreciates that. He’s good at His job, and doesn’t require an assistant.

As for missions. I think it’s ironic that of all the times I’ve heard “missionaries are supposed to…” it has never come from another missionary. Generally it’s from someone who has not been-there-done-that and has no idea what full-time mission work is like! Why can’t missionaries (and their modes of operations) be as different as the people themselves? I really don’t believe that God uses cookie cutters. If you feel God calling you to be involved in missions, that doesn’t necessarily mean that He is asking you to move 3,000 miles from home and start a church from scratch. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you will have to go through your denomination’s seminary and then language school for 5 yrs before being allowed to actually be a missionary. We serve a creative God who is perfectly capable of calling you to a specific task that He has already perfectly equipped you for. Your call to missions might mean a prison ministry in your home-town, or a home-based Bible study, or AWANAS with your kids. For us, it means (for now anyway) working with indigenous people in Southern Mexico. I think God has called all Christians to be involved in missions somehow. Either in your home town or in another country. Either doing it yourself, supporting someone else, or both. What I know for sure is that I should be honored to be called where I am, not apologizing for it. I’m working on that. I tend to apologize to people here because I’m “new” here, am not fluent in any language other than my own, and very rarely go on jungle trips with Nathan. Well, that last part *does* bother me and we are trying to find an affordable travel trailer so that we can all go. But for the rest of it, I need to stop apologizing. It is what it is, and I’m doing the best I can with the tools God has given me. I’m going to try and stop apologizing to everyone back home as well. I feel like I am so often saying “sorry I have to answer God’s call on my life”… isn’t that so backwards though? I should be thrilled and honored to answer any call from Him, and not half so concerned about what people think of it. Of course I would love it if everyone I knew was encouraging and supportive and tried to understand where we’re coming from. As if leaving my family, friends, church, Starbucks, Old Navy and beloved US of A behind isn’t hard enough, being told that we shouldn’t even be going is very disheartening! I’ve determined to stop letting that rob me of the joy of serving my God in the situation He currently has me in. I know several of you are in the same boat. Some of you have endured outright persecution for doing your best to follow God’s direction in your life. Hang in there! Know that the Lord sees your heart and understands the hard part of obedience.

I’ve ranted long enough! My mission field awaits. It’s calling me from the living room where 1 daughter needs to be fed. Another is in the bathroom needing assistance. The third (my sweet first-born) is attempting to assist me in putting clean dishes away and it sounds as though a few items have hit the floor. I pray that you will receive a fresh vision of your mission field today, wherever it is! Sometimes we just need someone to say “that looks hard… can I pray for you?” Let me be that person for you today! I would love for you to tell me how I can pray for you in your field.

Ramblings on relationships

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I had absolutely no idea what I was getting in to when I got married in Sep of `02. I would tell Nathan “I love you” and truly thought I knew what that meant at the time! Makes me wonder if in 20 yrs I’ll look back on today and think “I thought I understood love back then.” I’m looking forward to that day. Because as much as I enjoyed being married 7 yrs ago, it’s much more enjoyable now! If it’s just going to keep getting better, I’m excited for what it will be like in 20 yrs. Have you ever felt this way??

Nathan used to be such a mystery to me. He would say or do some random thing and I would be completely bewildered, upset, confused, hurt, or a combination of all 4! I am sure that Nathan is as relieved as I am that I understand him better now. Something I realized early on in my married life is that much of my frustration was stemming from un-met expectations. This is still something I have to remind myself of, but 8 yrs ago I was *chalk full* of expectations. I expected him to react a certain way to my cooking. I expected an insane amount of undivided attention every day. I expected him to LOVE all my favorite holidays as much as I did. The list goes on and on! When one of these expectations wasn’t met, I was crushed. This isn’t what I expected at all!! Why would he do this to me?? He must hate my cooking. And spending time with me. And holidays!

After a good long talk, we decided to make a rule. Always assume the best, and give your spouse the benefit of the doubt. Actually I think we made a few rules. But this is the one that made the biggest impact. Instead of assuming that he was TRYING to hurt my feelings by critiquing my cooking, I made myself give him the benefit of the doubt. He likes to cook WITH me! Instead of assuming that he doesn’t want to spend time with me, consider that maybe he doesn’t realize my need to spend more time talkin his leg off.

I’ve recently realized that this rule doesn’t just apply to spouses. I’m trying to learn to use it on everyone! Assuming the best of someone instantly changes your perspective. For example, there are a few people that I’ve always assumed didn’t like me because we don’t share the same beliefs. I’m trying to retrain myself to not think that or just accept it as fact. I want to assume the best of them, so instead I tell myself (outloud sometimes, if I’m completely unconvinced) “they don’t hate you because you’re different, they simply don’t understand what you DO believe.” I’m trying to assume that they LIKE me, even if there is little to no evidence to that end.

Another hurdle in my marriage was realizing that I didn’t know as much about Nathan as I thought I did. Not that he has ever pretended to be anything other than what he is! But be honest. We draw conclussions and decide that we have people figured out WAY too quickly sometimes. I think my precious husband is the victim of this entirely too often! No one expects him to have any sort of Latin ways about him! 🙂 But when one of those Latin tendencies pop up, it’s interpreted as something entirely different. Because people expect him to be who they expected, not who he actually is. I am shocked at how few people really *know* Nathan. It’s definitely their loss.

I’m trying to translate this into my other relationships as well. I remind myself that even though I may know a person pretty well, I can’t possibly know all there is to know about them and what they are going through. It goes hand-in-hand with assuming the best.

I’m sorry this post seems a bit rambly! I am tired… that’s my only excuse. 🙂 But I wanted to share with you my new determination for the relationships in my world. There are several that need an overhaul and this feels like a good place to start. It worked wonders for my marriage so I’m thinking it certainly can’t hurt to try! I hope you’ll try it with me.

House woes

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We’ve recently rearranged our entire living space! Our house is quite small, so we are trying to make the most of the space we have. We had a porch on one end of our house that we never ever used, so we closed it in and made it in to the living room! I love it out there. It’s bright even on cloudy days, and has a beautiful view.  Our old living room is our new dining room. I’m having a hard time with it! I like the location. But it looks… wrong. The walls look strange now that the entertainment system is gone from the one wall. So I have just decided to post my pictures and ideas here, and see what input you might have!

First, pictures of our current situation.

(yes, that is Cloe next to the fireplace, with a doily on her head!)

Here are the issues we have. I can’t duplicate exactly the yellow wash on the walls. I can’t change the tile floor or the tile/brick ceiling… so any colors we do have to work with those. I like the contrast we have going on the arches down the hallway. The maroon/brick color goes well with the ceiling AND floor. I’d like to add a little more color to the dining room walls, but still want to keep it mostly bright. Because once rainy season starts and we go weeks without sunshine, I need the light walls. I think. 🙂 So here’s my one and only idea!

I have this bunch of picture frames that Nathan made for me. Our idea was to make a sort of collage out of them. They are simple silver frames, and 2 pieces of glass that the picture goes between. Each frame is made to be a few inches larger than each picture, so that a little bit of the wall behind it is visible. I am thinking of painting the wall JUST behind the collage the same maroon/brick color as we have around the arch windows. Because I don’t love the way the yellow looks behind the pictures. Nathan suggested maybe painting a big brick-colored square on the right wall (the one that currently has the 3 mountain scenes on it), making a silver frame to go around it, then putting our collage of small frames inside that. Similar to something we saw in a Pottery Barn magazine one time. Then on the wall with the quilt and candles I want to paint a saying or verse or something. www.tradingphrases.com Has some ideas that I like a lot. But I would do the words in the same brick color.

I’ve also considered doing some kind of border up near the ceiling or maybe a chair rail of some sort… these walls are huge. All of our ceilings are 10′ so it feels like a ton of wall to deal with. But they are concrete and irregular so we can’t do anything like a wood chair rail or crown molding… the wall is too bumpy! What do you think? I can’t wait to read your thoughts.

Good day for gratefulness

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I got more sleep last night than I’ve had in several weeks. I had almost forgotten how good it feels to  jump up out of bed because I’m ready to get up, not because I *have* to!  Usually, I fly out of bed to the sound of one of my kids screaming that another kid is trying to kill them… or in the very least, stealing their favorite baby doll. Then I stumble out of my room, met by a house that closely resembles a war zone. At least, that’s been the norm the last several weeks since my youngest (Brennah, 4 1/2 months old) went on her sleep strike. It’s been a frustrating few weeks for me, trying to figure out exactly what her deal is, and how to fix it. But as I got up to feed her at 3 am this-morning, the thought struck me that I need to refocus. I still have so much to be grateful for!

I have tried to imagine what my life would be like if I suddenly didn’t have Brennah in my world anymore. I most definitely would get more sleep. But at the expense of not having such a precious angel in my house… I wouldn’t make that trade for anything!!!  Brennah is an absolute ray of sunshine around here. She is amazing. Most recently, she has discovered her toes… I love that stage! Last night I left her on the couch while I got the 2 big girls ready for bed. A few minutes later I came back and the toes on her right foot were completely wrinkley from being chewed on! As I type, she is laying in my arms, staring at me in absolute wonder. I wouldn’t trade those adoring smiles for all the world.

And then there’s Gabi. 🙂 This child (2 1/2 yrs old right now) keeps me on my toes more than the other 2 combined! But she also makes us laugh on a very regular basis. This is the child who randomly announces that she’s going to Paris… to buy shoes, of course.  Or she will look up at me and out of the blue gasp and say “Mom! I remember you!!!” She incredibly affectionate as well. Several times a day she just feels the need to kiss me or hug my leg. Last night, I made an Italian pasta casserole, peaches and cream, and Italian cream sodas for dinner. She would literally, after every bite or sip of her drink, sit back and sigh “ahhh… this so LUMMY!” And at least 3 times over the course of the meal said “thank for this lummy dinner Mom!!!” If I am ever in doubt of my parenting abilites, I simply have to give Gabi a piece of cheese or chocolate and she will quickly assure that I am the best mama EVER EVER. Did I mention she is also my clumsy child? At this moment she is sitting ON my feet, recovering from another head-bonk.

Cloe is my first-born… a whopping 5 yrs old already!? They weren’t kidding when they said time flies. It seems like yestrday that I was folding and refolding all the clothes in her drawers, anxiously waiting for her to be born. Now, she is my buddy! No matter what it is that I’m doing, Cloe is there. Whether it’s reading e-mails, typing my monthly update, doing dishes, feeding Brennah… Cloe wants to get right in the middle of it, “helping” me. I love how she can make friends with anyone, aywhere. Living in Southern Mexico, she sticks out like a sore thumb. When we go into town, people passing by will reach out and touch her hair… she doesn’t even notice anymore. If someone brings it to her attention she’ll say “it’s ok, they are just curious about what it feels like.” I’ve never seen another 5 yr be so good at being a big sister. She adores Gabi and Brennah! When Gabi wants to play hide and seek, Cloe sweetly feigns confusion while she “looks” for Gabi and then is always appropriately surprised when Gabi jumps out to scare her. I made macaronni and cheese the other day for lunch… NOT Cloe’s favorite. As was sat down to eat together, she took a bite, cringed a little, then said “thanks Mom… this is… yummy.” All the while with a precious little smile on her face. One last little note about Cloe… she has the entire script (including the songs and dances) of “White Christmas” memorized. It is unusual for us to make it through a day without hearing Cloe’s version of “Sisters” or “The best things happen while you’re dancing.”

Last but definitely far from the least, is my precious husband! Nathan and I have been married for 7 1/2 yrs. He is amazing. He’s an incredible daddy and wonderful husband! Our girls adore him almost as much as I do. Since the sleep strike began (and many times prior to it), he has been faithful to slip out of bed first thing in the morning and take care of the 2 big girls while I attempt to sleep a bit. If he hears Brennah awake in our room, he will come in and ask if he can take her out as well. How many husbands are that thoughtful on a day-to-day basis?? He is my champion and hero. There have been times (probably more than I would care to count) when I have been completely worked up and upset over something that maybe doesn’t really bother him at all. But without fail, he will go to bat for me. I don’t know what I did to deserve such a man, but I’m glad I did it. Nathan is the kind of guy that lives out his faith every day… he doesn’t just preach it. He is so completely undemanding and laid-back… he never freaks out about the house being a mess or dinner being burned… even when I am totally freaked out! I used to wonder what the man I would marry would think of my family. Would he like them as much as I do? Turns out, he does. I can’t even get a sentance out about how great my dad is without him jumping in to finish the sentance for me. 🙂 Most of the time I think people do not understand this precious man of mine. But that’s a different blog for a different day. Today, I just want to go on record with this statement… I am SO grateful for my sweet little family. God knew what He was doing when He put us all together.

EZLN – “revolutionary” murder

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It’s hard for me to believe that we are just now hearing about this.  It frustrates me that if there is an earthquake in some remote part of the planet, we hear about it within hours. And yet here is live, in-your-face persecution against Christians, happening just a couple hours away, and the news takes weeks to reach us. And that, only through friends. I highly doubt that it’s made American news.

The Zapatistas (EZLN) call themselves a revolutionary group. They spout stuff about wanting to improve Mexico and buck the government’s faulty system. But so far, they’ve just killed many innocent people, and taken over land that is not rightfully theirs. At the heart of their “disputes” are Christian vs. Catholic issues. Back in 1994, things got ridiculously out of hand. They ransacked numerous villages and towns, killing MANY innocent people in their takeover. Finally, the government stepped in and stopped it all in a hurry. Not in time to save all the lives lost or homes burned. But at least it stopped. Since then, the EZLN has been relatively quiet. They say they have changed their strategy to a non-violent one and are attempting to gain support just using the internet and becoming friends with the NGOs here. The Mexican government has heard no end of protests regarding their involvement. They have been endlessly accused of picking on the poor indigenous of Mexico. Ridiculous.

This-morning I received an e-mail from a dear friend who has family out near Agua Azul. Over a month ago, this Christian community was attacked at 3 am with club and machetes and fire-arms. 4 confirmed dead, 14 maimed and beaten, and 12 still missing. The locals believe that those 12 were abducted by their attackers, the EZLN. I debated posting the pictures I was sent this-morning, but decided in the end not to. They are pretty guesome. If you are interested in the e-mail (it’s in Spanish) and pictures I can send them to you.

Please pray for the vicitims of this most recent attack. Pray for the dozen individuals still missing, as well as their families. Pray that justice will be served and that this is not the beginning of another EZLN rampage. I believe the governement is slow to step in where it concerns the EZLN, due to the harassment they recieved over the last time they stepped in! I am praying that someone will have the courage to step up and protect the innocents before things get worse.

Let the writing begin

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I’ve always thought the idea of a personal blog was interesting, but entirely too daunting.  Where to start?  What to write about? And who would read it, anyway???

Over the years I’ve had a number of people suggest that I start a blog to give an inside look at mission life. That thought freaks me out, because I don’t see myself as one of *those* missionaries. I have friends who live in little shacks with mud floors… that’s a hard-core missionary! Theirs is a blog that I would read. I live a pretty normal life (by my own standards). I have a tile floor, a concrete house, and an actual stove. I have daily access to internet and telephones. I have read of missionaries who are so far out in the boon docks that they only get to check e-mail and make phone calls home to the US once a month! I have serious admiration for those people. Nothing I am doing even holds a candle to them!

On the other hand. I live in one of the coolest places I have ever seen! San Cristobal, Chiapas, MEX is one of the 10 oldest Colonial cities in the Americas. It is chalk full of history and culture and crawling with interesting people from all over the world. As I type, I have a precious baby (currently 4 months old) in my lap, chewing on my wrist like it’s made of sugar! I have two other little girls playing at my feet… curently 5 and 2 yrs old. At this moment they are planning a talent show that they’ll be putting on for us later this-evening. As far as I can tell, Gabi intends to show of her crab walk and Cloe is going to do a princess dance. I am married to one of the most incredible men I’ve ever met. I moved with him to the mission field in Nov. of `05 and to this day have yet to see him doubt his calling. He is so sure of what God has asked him to do with his life, and no amount of scorning has detered him from it. It’s a serious honor to have a front-row seat in this adventure. We have a host of amazing family and friends, both here and in many other spots around the world. They have been (for the most part) encouraging and supportive and wonderful.

My life *is* pretty amazing. And who am I to say that it’s not as amazing as someone else’s life? For better or worse, boring or exciting, this is most definitely the life God has given me to live at this moment. So I’ve just determined to enjoy every moment, document as much of it as I can, and take nothing for granted. And if you decide that’s something you want to read about, by all means! I will be honored. If not, that’s ok… I’m looking forward to rambling off into cyber space. In either case, let the writing begin!