My Match

Jeff and I met 11 years ago and we both kind of fell into the deep end. I was not planning on meeting anyone at the time, but when Jeff introduced himself to me, we really hit it off. We found that we had similar stories, ambitions, philosophies and goals. After the first week of phone calls, IM chats and text messaging, Jeff joked about being on a mission to find a ‘deal breaker.’ Clearly, I was hiding something mischievous.

We ended up in college together (we met during the summer of freshmen year right before I transferred to his school). And to add to the long list of similarities between us, we found out we have the same favorite pen. Maybe its odd to have a favorite pen, I’m not sure, but hear me out!

In school you are only allowed to use blue and black ink. But since I’m a rebel, and my favorite color is purple, I used purple a purple R.S.V.P pen for my entire high school career. I figured the spirit of the law was that the ink was not hard on the eyes and I kept the spirit of the law. Besides it being my favorite color, the pen also was the perfect size with and leaves thin, neat lines. You can also see how much ink is left, which is both fun (goal setting = using an entire inkwell) and practical. (here I am admitting my sin nature and my nerd status, I put a lot of thought into my pen for a 14 year old).

That first class Jeff and I had together, we awkwardly sit at the same table and arrange our places and he pulls an R.S.V.P pen out of his pocket; since Jeff’s favorite color is green, guess which color his is?!

And he explained to me all the reasons for my own favorite pen, while I unpack my purple one. Yes, clearly I had found my rebellious match.

RSVP

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At school after our honeymoon

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Road Trip!

The Natural Force of the Toddler

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Water is arguably the most powerful force on the earth. If you pour a glass of water on a surface, you can watch it roll, flood and drip away in an instant. When water meets a steadfast obstacle, it immediately flows another direction with the same intensity. With water there is no thought process, no hesitation and no undo button.

Such is life with a toddler. Strong and fierce, there is no stopping a tiny trotting human. Toddling this way and that, the little human never stops until it has worn so thin, it passes out involuntarily. These still developing humans, leave no cabinet left un-opened, no shelf left un-cleared and no basket left un-dumped.

As you can hear the sound of a rushing flood, the toddler alerts innocent bystanders of advancing attacks with loud, “aaaaaaaaaaa,” and “awwwwww,” alarms. But, beware of the silent battle. When you are least aware, water can damage your cabinets, floors and furniture. The small munchkin also employs her sneak attacks on unsuspecting possessions, doing the most damage when you feel safe and unsuspecting.

Have you ever tried holding water? Water is impossible contain and control without a vessel. Similarly, little people can often (but not not always) be contained in baby wraps, high chairs, swings and strollers. But once a child has been released from safety straps, he or she may quickly turn to fluid, making themselves difficult to detain.

Water is pure, stunningly beautiful to behold, and absolutely vital to life. Likewise, little cherubs are our life’s future, and quite lively themselves. Beautiful though they may be, the power of water, or the tot, is awe inspiring and dreadfully terrifying. If you find yourself in trust of such a force, handle with care and behold the fierce power and beauty with patience, caution and admiration.

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^What even happened to the sheet?

Kidversations ~ Boy Mom

I was spending some quality time with my 5 year old son, JJ and I thought I would ask him about his love tank. He really thinks the idea of a love bank is weird, but he said his was quite full. I told him that since he was my first boy, he should teach me how to be a good boy’s mommy.

I asked, “So what do boys need from their mommies?”

JJ, “Food.”

Me, “That’s good, I can do that. What about playing? What do boys like to play and learn?”

JJ, “Just eating. Boys just like to eat.”

I did not want to laugh at him, but goodness it was hard not to laugh at that reality! I think husbands are the same way sometimes. I try to make everything so complicatedly perfect and all my son says he needs and wants is food. The conversation went in to more details, but is the gist of it, I thought the stories he shared of feeling loved had to do with spending time together but he kept insisting it was because of the food involved. He was such a sweetie though, cuddling and telling me how awesome my cooking was, I do wish I could keep JJ 5 forever!

Shamrock Pancakes

St Patrick’s day is almost here! I thought I would share our new family tradition with you. I am a huge fan of St Patrick’s day. I get asked multiple times a week if I am Irish (its probably the flamboyant shade of red hair, lol), and honestly, I don’t know. But I love Irish people and traditions so I don’t mind that people assume.

Last year, I made some shamrock shaped pancakes for the kids. My artist skills on a 1-10 scale might be like a 2, so I really expected a failed attempt (those happen a lot!). All I did was put dyed batter in empty squirt bottles and draw the shapes on to a hot skillet. I first drew the outline and then filled the batter in the middle. The outline cooked first, leaving darker lines and kept the shape very well.

The kids were a huge fan! We also made cupcakes with green icing and gold foiled chocolate coins for the Bible study at our house, and for the elderly folks at the retirement home we minister to on Sundays.

We will be having these pancakes again on Friday, along with another reading of the story of Saint Patrick. What are your St Patrick’s Day plans?10373981_618547669278_7323054884400803253_n947096_618578327838_8015976234452810820_n

^You know you are in South Africa when the chocolate coins are Krugerrands ;)

 

 

Present to Help

I love to teach children’s classes at church. I would not say I am all that talented for it, but it is a pleasure of mine. I did not regularly go to church until I was 10, but  I had a Beginner’s Bible when I was just learning to read. I remember the stories coming alive. I remember dreaming, hoping and praying that God would call me special like He did Hannah, Samuel and Mary, but especially like Elijah and Jonah with whom I identify with most. Sharing those stories is so much fun for me.

A few stories stuck out to me most, Elijah with the prophets of Baal, Hannah and her encounter with Eli, Jonah and his fish-belly repentance, and a man of palsy who had faithful friends bring him to Jesus through a roof. The last one always baffled me, how those friends were so decisive that they interrupted the teachings of Jesus and opened up the tiles on a roof to lower a lame man down in front of large group of followers, literally putting themselves in the center of attention.

But as I prepared this week’s Sunday School lesson, something entirely new about that last story came to life to me. In Luke 5:17 the story is just beginning, “And it came to pass on a certain day, as  {Jesus} was teaching, that there were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, which were come out of every town of Galilee, and Judaea, and Jerusalem: and the power of the Lord was present to heal them.”

The stage is set for this miracle to occur, and the scene is full of wealthy, well educated, able-bodied people. And the Power of the Lord was present to heal them. These men must have been intimidating in their proper religious robes and meticulous manners. And God Himself came, able to heal them.

What an incredible missed opportunity when they did not seek Him. When the humbled, uninvited lame man and his faithful friends arrived, they stopped Jesus with their act of faith. These men found more than the physical healing they were searching for, but also the forgiveness of their sins over their act of faith.

I found myself in awe over this story from my childhood all over again. God is so merciful, gracious, and kind. He was right there, able and willing to heal those in attendance, but so few sought what God had to offer. I wonder how often Jesus had something for me, but I was too busy, prideful or afraid to seek the possibilities.

 

A Husband’s Wisdom After False Labor

I was blessed with a husband who is not only intelligent and educated, he is also wise. He understands the way the world works and can see the end of matters. Many times his insight is refreshing and helps me handle situations properly. It wouldn’t be wisdom if he did not also abstain from sharing his thoughts at the wrong times, so wisdom really is a double blessing.

I mentioned before that I have surpassed my due date. Since about 35 weeks I have had many days of false, or prodromal labor. I suppose much of that is normal. I do have an irritable uterus, and posterior babies, so I should not be surprised. But yesterday I truly thought it was early ‘real’ labor. I went through the typical feelings of excitement, and then after several hours, the feeling of this-is-taking-forever and can-I-really-do-this?

After 14 hours of back labor and contractions that started 10 mins apart and then averaging 6-7 mins, I decided it was time to go to bed. When I laid down, they slowed down, and I was a bit upset. I had that feeling that it was all in vain, and began to worry about needing that induction on Saturday.

My husband came close to me, and told me that it was silly to worry as if she was not going to come. He must have thought my heart as as broken as if I were no longer having a baby at all. And really, my heart sinks lower and lower each time in a pregnancy I experience false labor. It feels as intense as real labor. After the better part of a day of laboring, you tell yourself that every wave brings your baby closer. Only then at the end, you find there has been no cervical change and you have not even started the marathon yet. It is a very particular sense of hopelessness and (seemingly) pointless suffering.

When a woman is at this kind of low, it usually is not time to start giving advice. Even comfort should be offered with caution. Surprisingly, I was open for some sage advice and when my husband pointed out that we are still, in fact, having this baby. I might even be able to do it after getting some rest.

Rest. Rest sounds good.

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Funny reading this. This has been sitting in my drafts for almost 4 years. I remember this, and feeling a deep sense of disappointment. My husband was right about one thing. We DID have this child, and she is such a delight to us. Not sure that I was restful when she came, but I did get some rest that night. When Saturday/Induction day came, the midwife called and said I could wait another day. I was 42 weeks that Saturday, and she came just a few hours before the scheduled induction that Sunday morning. What a way to keep me on my toes!

Loneliness and Time Change

Usually my goal of posting online is to share about things that make me happy, share my joys, or things that make me laugh. The truth about moving across the world, though, is not always sunshine and roses. Honestly, by most accounts our life has much improved since we have moved to South Africa, except for one, not so small factor.

We get lonely.

I could go on about the different factors in what makes us lonely, but the most surprising one is the time difference. I wouldn’t have imagined that!

We are so fortunate to be missionaries in a time of social media, phone calls, and video chatting. Our children are blessed to get to ‘see’ relatives and friends back in the States. But it is actually difficult to set up these chats because of the time difference. South Africa is about 8, 500 miles from our sending church and 6 hours ahead half the year and 7 the other half.

Since our kids go to bed at 6-7:30 pm and wake from nap around 3 pm, that pretty much just leaves dinner prep, eating and cleaning time to talk to relatives. And I don’t mind altering our typical routine to talk to relatives, I love being people oriented, but it isn’t that easy. Our families work so, they don’t get off often until around 11 pm our time, and then they have their own dinner plans to attend.

During the Fall and Winter, I wake up around 10:30-11PM Eastern Standard Time most of my friends and family are either in bed or on their way. During Spring and Summer up in the Northern Hemisphere, I am not awake until 11:30-12 their time.

In this age of phones and instant text messages, it was a weird adjustment to not be able to expect a response from my best friends or mother for several hours, no matter how urgent. Thankfully we have had no true emergencies, but there have been times I really just wanted or needed to pick up the phone and talk to someone, and then the distance hits me.

In my year and a half living in Africa, Culture Shock and Loneliness have not been a huge battle. Here and there I get a wave of frustration or loneliness and time change more often than not, has been the culprit.

Spring is heading to the US, and with that, time change! I will no longer be up early enough in the EST to talk to my friends; which is a disappointment, but, instead of being courteous and waiting until 4 pm my time to call, I will be able to call as early as 3 pm, and that is a fun half of the year.