of holding a miracle, deep inside

IMG_4603 I packed the hospital bag the other day. Our baby isn’t due for at least a month, but it gave me a constructive focus for my nervous energy. I have a lot of sciatic pain at the minute, which makes sleeping difficult, so I usually lay awake half the night. Something about three in the morning makes one’s thoughts repetitive, have you ever noticed that? It’s like the brain is too tired to fuel new journeys for the train of thought, so the train runs on a circular track. After a week of nights of the train stuck on the “what would I do if I was in labor right now” track I finally packed the bag. I haven’t packed a hospital bag of this sort since 2008. In England I was always home within a few hours and could probably have brought just the carseat and a camera. Packing was surprisingly easy after doing it in my head 74 times.

I went into Hugh and his baby brother’s room and opened the top drawer to find two little onesies and a sleeper or two to bring for baby. I picked up the tiniest, softest blue pajamas you’ve ever seen and folded them in a little micro-stack for the bag, lining up two tiny sleeves and two tiny legs and bending the bitty waist. And without warning I was struck with the incredible miracle that is a baby. Holding that little sleeper in my hand and feeling the kicks and pokes of my son deep inside me, it was suddenly astounding to me that God crafts each unique child and brings them into the world in the way he does. Sometimes we can take it so for granted, this beautiful, continual creation of life. After all, it’s a miracle that happens 375,000 times per day.

And I can get so caught up in the pain and fatigue of pregnancy that sometimes I lower my gaze to that and forget the tremendous, indescribable privilege of carrying a child.

I made a scene at the 22 week ultrasound. I had just come through 15 grueling weeks of intense nausea and then a month of travel and exhaustion. It was a lowered-gaze kind of of day. Then the technician surprised me by suddenly putting a picture of my son’s face on the screen on the wall. I had never had this kind of ultrasound before, the 4D kind. They didn’t do this for my first in Boston; they don’t do these in England. I don’t know if I’d ever even seen one. I didn’t know what was coming. And suddenly, there he was. Curled up, his little face resting on one tiny hand. I cried. That’s no blob of tissue. That’s my baby.

I remember a conversation I had with my husband during the worst of the nausea last spring. He said something about how he wished it wasn’t so hard for me. “I would trade places with you in a second!” I said. And then instantly wanted to snatch back those words. “No, I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t!” I wished so much I hadn’t said it, hadn’t implied even for a second that his is the more blessed place. Because it isn’t true. No one ever gets to experience the miracle like we mothers do. It is a precious gift, a soul-rocking experience granted by God alone. I watch my body swell to nearly 200 pounds (you read that right), I struggle to cope with the nausea and fatigue and pain–and every bit of it is worth that astonishing moment when my baby appears and makes his first sound.

 

Posted in Being Mommy, Our Little Ones | 6 Comments

the boy cave

IMG_4860I painted a wooden car and wooden door hanger ($2) from the craft store with acrylics–it says “Hugh and” (the “and” because I haven’t filled in his little brother’s name yet). The reverse side is below.

IMG_4846Hugh’s prized possession is little red metal double-decker bus we bought him in London in 2013. This stands on his bureau (whenever it’s not gripped in his sticky little paw or being carried around town). We used to have a black metal London taxi as well, but mislaid it somewhere in this house. After much strenuous searching for it to complete the room (who, me, anal?), I have at last given it up. I think Hugh might have flushed it, there have been several suspicious flushings. I know Hugh likes to launch things this way–once I arrived just in time to snatch the girls’ prized plastic baby bottle from the fast road to the sewer. Oh, well. Though the room has a road theme, I focused particularly on buses and taxis. I painted a basic bus for Hugh and a taxi for his little brother on blank white canvases.

IMG_4853IMG_4852Baby’s name to be added below the taxi. I hung these over their beds–Hugh’s with a big “H” painted black with white road lines. I have his brother’s initial, also painted black with white road lines, to add when he arrives.

IMG_4855I know the curtains aren’t ideal, I just only wanted to buy something that I can take with me when we move continents next year. The blinds were broken in Hugh’s room so we’ve never been able to make it dark in there, so I decided to buy the versatile gray curtains I’ve wanted for a while and just use them in here until we leave. I took down the mint-green valances that were over the windows. The rug (plus three cars) was our birthday present to Hugh when he turned one, and all I had to add was a basket of truck books for his nightstand and find him some bedding.

IMG_4858I couldn’t believe it when I saw this duvet cover at IKEA for $15. “Do you think he’ll notice it?” I asked Alex, when I put it on the bed. Folks, he’s obsessed. He went bananas when he saw it, yelling, “Bus! Bus! Tractor! Car! Bus!” and he repeats the performance all over again every morning when he wakes up. Which makes me so happy.

IMG_4840The mat on the end of the bed is our changing table (seriously changing tables are on top of a long list I’ve titled “Unnecessary Baby Paraphernalia”).

IMG_4848I painted a few other things for over the bureau and made another origami mobile for baby. Norah and Harriet both had birds, Hugh had turtles and fishes and frogs last year, Baby boy gets . . . (you guessed it) trucks and buses and cars. Super simple ones, too, as the complicated ones I attempted all flopped (and, frankly, who has time for origami?).

IMG_4851That’s the boy zone, in all its glory. I know it’s not that pulled together, design-wise. But that doesn’t seem to bother Hugh at all.

Posted in Keep House and Carry On, Make Do and Mend | 1 Comment

it’s boy cave time

20140903_104507I know my decorating projects are funny. They are always homemade, often small-scale, never even remotely professional. But I have so much fun with it.

This farmhouse we’re living in has two small adjoining bedrooms with a connecting door that house our offspring. The house is already furnished. The girls’ room had bunk beds, the other a single bed, both have a bureau. Hugh’s room also had an olive green lamp and an old-fashioned nightstand. Both rooms also have plastic window blinds and fabric valances hanging over the windows.

I love these rooms. Their size is perfect, each has two big windows and a narrow closet perfectly sized for our children’s clothes. I also love that the kids are in close proximity to one another. The other night, my husband being out of town, Hugh was wailing and calling for “Daaaaaaaaa-deeeeeeeeeeee” for ages after I laid him down. Suddenly I heard Norah calling to him through the closed door between their rooms. “Hugh! Hugh, it’s me, Wah-wah!” (Hugh calls the girls “Wahwah” and “Ay-ihey” at this stage in his verbal development.) “Don’t cry, buddy,” she said. “Daddy will be back soon. You’re okay. Just go to sleep now!” He stopped screeching immediately, and soon I heard, “Wahwah? Is Wahwah?” They had a little chat, then silence fell, and both were peacefully asleep.

Now that Hugh’s little brother is approaching arrival, one of my fall projects was to prepare for him to move in with Hugh. Hugh will be graduating the crib next week for the single bed to make room for him. We’ve never done toddler beds or guard rails, really, the kids just seem to adjust to what we place them in. I hope that remains true!

One thing about our Hugh–he has a passion for anything with an engine. His main words are “bus”, “tractor”, “choo-choo”, and “beep-beep”. He can’t say “dog” or “Norah” but “helicopter” is as clear as a bell. I wanted his room to be a space that he would enjoy, so I took this for a theme. I’ll show you tomorrow.

Posted in Keep House and Carry On, Make Do and Mend | Leave a comment

of autumn (how I love it)

IMG_4833It’s always been my time of year. I remember as a middle-schooler, when a teacher asked the class their favorite season, feeling astonished that every one of my peers didn’t say “autumn” (most, if I recall, favored summer). This time of year just suits me, somehow. I love how the year announces its departure in a blaze of glory. I love sharpened pencils and blank pages and the start of school, I love cool breezes and cardigan sweaters and wood-fires. I’ve never met a hot beverage I didn’t like. Our house is flowing with coffee and chai and cider and my end-of-summer cooking doldrums have been completely relieved with the delight of making soups and stews and roasts again.

This year my appreciation of the season’s beauties seems heightened–the colors of the leaves seem more vibrant, the aromas of apple cider and woodsmoke are even more comforting, the pumpkins and gourds are particularly gorgeous.  Is it that we haven’t been in the home clime in autumn in so long? There were three years in England, where autumn, though beautiful, is just different. Pumpkins and woodsmoke were as scarce as turkeys and cider is always cold and alcoholic. Then last year we were traveling about, homeless, for the entire autumn. Now, briefly, we are settled and experiencing October as fully as possible. Can I just say, what a gift!

Perhaps it is particularly poignant because under it all I carry the consciousness that this is likely our last autumn in America for a very long time to come. I want to dive in and roll in it and get it stuck in my hair. I want to drag the children to orchards and woods and stuff them full of caramel apples and pumpkin bread and carrot soup. I want to pack a backpack and go hiking and camping with my husband somewhere amongst the leaves (He’ll be surprised to read that, seeing as walking to the mailbox wears me out and I’ve definitely reached the crazy rhinocerous stage of pregnancy, in which my behavior is, at best, puzzling . . .)

It is a gift. A reminder that, as a good friend has written above her door, Every day is a gift.

 

Posted in America | Leave a comment

of the honest art of children

IMG_4794As I get to know my children, one of my favorite things is seeing their creativity emerge. I love the way children create art–their process is so free and unhindered. Every movement contains just a little splash of adventure as they explore the textures and colors of their medium. They make decisions rapidly and carelessly, their ideas unhindered by perfectionism.

IMG_4802At these ages we do plenty of structured crafts, with instructions to follow and a specific desired outcome in mind. (“We are building a picture frame with popsicle sticks. . .” etc.) I think learning to follow directions and the appropriate use of materials are both useful skills. However, truth be told, my favorites among my children’s artistic endeavors are those that they create themselves, with the freedom to design things as they wish, permission to make a mess, and few interruptions from me. Sometimes I can’t help myself and I intervene before the artist has announced a finished product–I’ll love what’s coming out and I want to save the piece just as-is, before my child decides next to cut it up with scissors or paint it totally over with black or something. What kind of a mother removes a painting from a child who is wailing, “I wasn’t done yet!” ?!? (Yes, I have.)

IMG_4797We still have a gallery in our house and it is now necessary for me to change out the artwork thereupon about every other week. I usually forget to show this to guests, though Daddy does a wonderful job of noticing its changing content and appreciating the girls’ work. I think carefully displaying and saving the very best of their efforts has encouraged them to pursue excellence.

IMG_4799This gallery often reflects what we are learning and not only because of the structured and planned crafts that are hung there. I find the things we are learning appearing and reappearing in their independent efforts as well, reminding me of a crucial educational law. (Or is it a life law?) Simply put: that input inspires output. The quality of what we consume informs the quality of what we produce. That, my fellow proponents of classical education, is why we aim for the good, the true, and the beautiful. (Which are, as Plato wrote, objective values, not subjective ones.)

Before we get too lofty it must be said that I am not sure how much of the good, the true, and the beautiful is evident in “Birdwing,” independently drawn by Norah during our study of birds. This bird is engaged in  . . . a natural process.

IMG_4801Sometimes the children are inspired by other creative people and creative acts they witness. At the lodge in July the girls watched my father-in-law, assisted by their uncle, tinker with a water wheel to place in the Brule River.

IMG_4057Last week Harriet recreated its design, with some modifications of her own, with strips of paper and scotch tape. “What are you making?” I asked. “This is a water wheel for Papa,” she said, “like the one to put in the river.” I love it. I love that they build sculptural creations when they are playing outside because they have seen their Papa create things like this one he made on the shore of Lake Superior:

IMG_3852It always pays to wait when one of them is completely focused on something, to let their ideas develop. It pays to ask gently what it is, even if, at first, it just looks like blobs or smears. The picture below was one of those. I have blocked out the title, any guesses?

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“What do you want to call your painting, Harriet?” I asked. “It’s ‘Pig in the Mud’,” she said. Can you see it now? The pig is rolling on its back.

 

Posted in Being Mommy, Homeschooling | Leave a comment

a herd of worms in the dining room

IMG_4614This homeschool thing isn’t for wussies, my friends. Cindy, a wise mentor of mine, used to say to me, “The thing about life is that it’s so daily.” That seems to be precisely the case with homeschooling. After Monday one awakens only to find that it is Tuesday.

Since we hoisted the flag of our school (figuratively) on August 11, I have had varied and harried experiences. For several weeks I nurtured a crop (herd? battalion?) of mealworms in the dining room. We’ve exploded volcanoes on the kitchen table and popped balloons covered with paper mâché. I’ve had spiders launched at me, gotten glue in my hair, and twice dropped my phone in fresh paint. But we’ve had school for nearly eight weeks and we’ve learned. I just verified it by asking Harriet. Harriet, who is in pre-school, only recently discovered she is not in pee-school, as she at first thought. In addition to that clarification, she appears to have learned also that, “Baby Moses went into the sea.” So we’ll consider the first eight weeks a success. Learning is taking place.

What am I teaching my oft-bespectacled offspring? I don’t know if this will come out to be a curriculum review, a list of objectives, or random commentary but I am asked this question fairly often so here’s a shot at the answer.

The real planning challenge was to find ways for the girls to work together for as much of the time as possible and yet not push Harriet ahead or hold Norah behind. Another factor influencing my decision is my “make do and mend” motto: I have a strong preference for using what has been given to me or what I can purchase at reasonable cost. It is not that I do not want my children to have an excellent education. (Seriously, who doesn’t want that?) But I am endeavoring to resist the entitlement impulse, that assumes we should always procure the very best. There are many good options in each subject area to choose from. If I can get one for free or at reduced cost, that’s the one I’ll use.

We begin with calendar activities of various sorts. To keep it interesting, I occasionally work in a seasonal craft or two at this time. We’ve done a variety of apple crafts and we’re just beginning on crafts featuring leaves, pumpkins, and other autumnal subjects. We also go over the daily schedule, record and graph the weather, add a penny a day and learn about American coins, and practice memory verses at this time. I write a “Morning Message” on a children’s easel someone gave me and we read that together. Sometimes I have the girls “sign in” and practice writing different letters and numbers.

IMG_4627Next we do Bible time. We are reading the classic Egermeier’s Story Bible together this year, a story a day. Alex and I have lined up memory verses that correspond with what we are learning, one per week. (“Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Genesis 15:6) The stories are the right depth and length for both of the girls at this time. Please note this book has no real application or comprehension questions, but I invent these as I go and direct the discussion to appropriate application as I am able. I have a book of Bible crafts at the girls’ level and occasionally we do a special craft or project that fits our Bible story. I also collect various illustrations of the stories we read from different works and we view these.

IMG_4630In the past, I worked through Teach Your Child To Read In 100 Easy Lessons with Norah and found it incredibly helpful in teaching her to read. This summer I tested her and found that she was testing consistently at a first-grade reading level. Though I have enjoyed writing my own reading curriculum based on trade books in the past, this is not feasible for me going forward. I also find that pace is a big weakness of mine: I tend to push too hard. So I decided to use Sonlight’s excellent reading program for first grade. I have been very happy with this decision, it is right at Norah’s level and is teaching her grammar, spelling, and phonics along with reading.

I am not following Sonlight’s read-alouds, I still do this part myself. Right now we are reading Charlotte’s Web for read-aloud and it is a highlight in our day. (“Where’s Papa going with that axe?” said Fern to her mother . . . ) It has taken great self-control for me to resist reading certain works to my children too early, before they can really enter into them and have that magical first experience with the stories that I remember from my own childhood. We began with Beatrix Potter, A. A. Milne, Virginia Lee Burton, and now finally E. B. White (reading Stuart Little and Charlotte’s Web). When this book is concluded, I think we are finally prepared for Laura Ingalls Wilder and The Little House In The Big Woods (which must be read in the winter, it’s like a law).

IMG_4629For writing we are using Handwriting Without Tears. This was the program I really wanted but its price is completely prohibitive. Last year I found it lightly used, with three years’ worth of blank workbooks and all possible manipulatives, on sale on ebay for $80. Norah is doing the Kindergarten book and Harriet the pre-K book. Their work is similar enough to do together, but different enough to challenge each of them.

IMG_4626For math Norah is about half-way through Math-U-See’s primer level, which is about mid-first grade. I teach a new concept only every-other day, leaving the other days for practice, review, enrichment, and exploration. We had to buy a set of math blocks for this curriculum, but the teacher’s manual and workbooks were generously given to me by friends. I have been impressed at how much more easily Norah is learning these things than I expected. Harriet does pre-K workbooks and also plays math games and counting games with Mommy.

IMG_4628All of our science materials were gifts, passed on from other homeschoolers. We are working through a study of God’s world right now, focusing on animals. I took a book called The Complete First Book of Nature and built 12 weeks of daily lessons around its content. We began with three weeks on butterflies and moths, then did a few weeks on insects (thus our herd of worms), and have just launched a unit on birds. Nearly every day we do some form of activity, experiment, or craft in science. Knowing my own tendency to procrastinate on these types of things, I prepped all the crafts and experiments in advance and stored them in drawers. This was the smartest thing I did all summer. I also planned field trips: we’ve managed to actually go on two of the three.

IMG_4642For the first eight weeks of school, we’ve been learning about our future home in social studies. I found a book right at the children’s level full of varied information about the country in southeast Asia to which we plan to move next year (pictured above, title obscured). We have done crafts, cooked and tasted food, put on performances, learned words in another language, and created volcanoes from plaster as we’ve studied this book and this place. It is my hope that it will create a happy expectation for new peoples and new places in the children and that it will form the foundation for lots of learning to come. For weeks 9-16 of this term I have yet to form a plan, I think perhaps we will study our current community.

IMG_4665That’s the overview, for those who have asked. I would love comments and suggestions from you subscribers/readers who are seasoned homeschoolers, or others who are, like me, taking the plunge.

Enjoy your daily today!

 

 

 

Posted in Homeschooling | 8 Comments

the only finished thing

I’ve just seen an opinion piece published online by The Washington Post. It was titled, “Christianity in Iraq is Finished”. The article went on to tell the story of Christians in Iraq since the fall of Hussein in 2003. The Christian population of northern Iraq, author Daniel Williams claims, has shrunk from over a million to just thousands. Of late, even the survivors have fled the country. They do not, argues Williams, desire to return to an Iraq so marked with violence. They become exiles.

In essence Williams is saying that the Christians fleeing Iraq will be looking for a new country and a safer kingdom: “But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city” (Hebrews 11:16). Thus we know, ultimately, that they will have it.

Insightfully Williams notes in his article that the “bulwark against fanaticism” that Christians in Iraq have long been is now removed. I am remembering how Jesus said we are the salt of the earth: What happens to a nation when its salt has been removed? He said we are the light of the world, like a lamp that gives light to all in a dark house. How dark is that house with no light at all? When we pray for the Christians of Iraq, let us also pray for what remains!

The thing in Williams’ article that rankled was his title. “Christianity in Iraq is Finished.” Perhaps he achieved his goal. After all, his title was provocative enough that I read the article. But I felt a strong reaction all the way to my core. Christianity is never finished, Mr. Williams, in Iraq or anywhere else! Christianity as we know it is the beginning of a new and better kingdom that will last long after even the best and strongest empires of this world are ashes. Christianity is eternal. Do you want to know the only thing “finished” in Christianity? As he hung there on that crude cross and triumphed over all the forces of evil for all time, our Lord Jesus said “It is finished.”

 

 

 

 

Posted in Jesus | 2 Comments

of schooling and such

Meanwhile, I’m homeschooling my children. We are now in the middle of our sixth five-day week of school. We began on August 11 because Baby Boy is likely to arrive around the end of November and thus we would no doubt not complete a fall term if I taught September to December. One the (many) nice things about homeschooling is the total sovereignty one has over the schedule.

My oldest is nearly six and I am striving to keep her work firmly at the kindergarten level. (Somehow my sporadic and faulty efforts over the last year or so have managed to teach her some things so she is doing first grade work in reading and math, but I refuse to make her a first grader at five years old.) Our homeschool also includes Harriet, who is nearly four and doing pre-K work.

One upshot of all this is that Norah has become a teacher, too. The other day she devised a math worksheet for Harriet. (“Harriet, this is just a little review page.”) Harriet, who watched eagerly while it was being laboriously created, was then required to fulfill it before breakfast (which she did).

IMG_4792We know already that Norah is more effective at training Harriet than I am. Remember the bed-making drama? During one phase of it, Harriet was shooting upstairs right after breakfast to work on it and, astonishingly, I found it done in a thorough and timely fashion several days in a row. On the day when I began to internally congratulate myself on having achieved this parenting triumph, I happened to overhear the following as I approached to inspect Harriet’s bed one morning.

Norah: “No, Harriet, you haven’t put the pillows on. You better hurry or you will not be having your prize this morning.”(frantic activity ensues)
Harriet: “Is that okay, Norah?”
Norah: “Well, that’s pretty good, Harriet. It could be better, but I guess you can choose one prize.”

And I entered to find Harriet poring over the odd bits and ends that Norah collects wherever she goes and keeps in a shoebox dubbed “Norah’s treasures” in her bottom bureau drawer. Harriet, who has long envied Norah this collection of rocks and rubber bands and gum wrappers, had been sufficiently motivated by it to display passable bed-making skills.

A second upshot, perhaps related to their new identity as scholars, is that both of my daughters are affecting spectacles this week. Norah began it, suddenly appearing one morning in an old pair of glasses (with clear glass) from the dress-up bin. She wore them faithfully all day, despite the fact that the lenses are enormous on her little face. Then a friend gifted Harriet with a pair as well. They seem to need these lenses for nearly all activities, even viewing The Magic School Bus. (Hugh’s eyes remain adequate, and he spurns all attempts to smarten him up with lenses.)

20140910_164157What does Hugh do while we do school? He steadfastly resists all attempts to educate him. He won’t sit nicely while we do calendar, crayons only interest him for two minutes, he eats paint, he pulls at the pages of storybooks and tries to climb over my face while I am reading. Despite the generous helping of healthy neglect he has received since birth he refuses to become independent, only rarely occupying himself with toys for any length of time. I just juggle him the best I can. At these ages we only do focused work for a relatively short segment of the day, after all. Sometimes I can kind of play with him as I do things with the girls. Sometimes I hold him, or he has a snack in his chair or he watches Thomas the Tank Engine. Often he clings to my legs and weeps at the tragedy that is his sisters’ education. But he likes recess. And field trips.

IMG_4405IMG_4697Those are my favorites, too.

Posted in Homeschooling, Our Little Ones | 3 Comments

for the regulars: change is coming

IMG_0167Since July of 2010 I’ve posted on this blog 614 times. I started for three reasons–as a place to share more about our transitory, hop-around lives with those that know us, as a creative outlet, and to work on writing in an authentic way. The last reason was the real kick that got me started. I was tired of writing in my head or writing journals, reflecting and then forgetting. I wanted to write something that someone would read.

Over time, as that began to happen, I found another reason to blog. Writing-just-to-write began to seem very empty compared to writing things that may be relevant or in some way encouraging to others. Perhaps that’s really what prodded me to start in the first place; perhaps by naming this collection Part of the Main I was trying to get at something far better expressed by John Donne centuries past–we are all parts of the one big whole of human experience; intentionally or unintentionally in our lives and deaths and struggles and joys we present an unfolding story written by God, the original Author. The one who made every one of us in his image.

I’ve just had a look at the categories I’ve written about. There’s plenty of rubbish about food and who knows what, but far and away my dominant topic has been Being Mommy. That’s really the story of my last six years, this massive transition from being whoever-I-was-before (can’t remember, really) to the Mommy in this family. It’s changed me in ways permanent and profound. It’s a part of who I am now in a way I could never have imagined before a wrinkly, little, red Norah was placed in my arms yelling her pointy head off in 2008. And, while I know there’s other work for me to do, other parts of who I am, my role in this family as Alex’s wife and the mother of my children has proven the biggest and most fulfilling challenge of my life. I’ve failed at it, struggled with it, rejoiced in it, learned about it, loved it, and tackled it for going on six years. It’s been most of my part of the main.

I’m still there. I think I’ll always be there, reflecting on and considering my life in light of motherhood, which is an inseparable and indispensable part of it. But there’s more going on here. We’re a pre-field missionary family, about to depart for places far-flung and different. On this mom-blog I’ve kept a pretty solid silence about that part of my part of the main. (I’ve used the word “missionary” here this once, for security reasons I won’t be using it again. Let’s call us overseas workers.) Sometimes this silence has made it hard to write the posts I really feel stirring, bits of our journey or things God has done for us that I’d really like to sing about. I have no “mission” category.

When we move overseas, I’m not even certain I can continue in this venue. I think a new mode may become necessary, devoid of names and details–disconnected from this collection. If I do continue writing, I plan to write more about our family’s journey in light of what God is leading us to do. I’d like to write as I learn more about other peoples in other places and thus learn more about the God who made us all to reflect his glory. It may not be your cup of tea, dear reader. At any rate it won’t be the same one. Thank you for reading all of this time, for receiving what I’ve placed here and for participating in this site. I’m grateful for you: I’m grateful for each friendship brought to me in this unexpected way and each interaction. (Except the lady who keeps spamming me about diet pills, struggling to be grateful for her.)

Just a word about the long silences. And a heads up: change is coming.

Posted in In Transit, Writing and Stories I Tell | 8 Comments

the next thing

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I can hear the shrill chirping of crickets outside the window and, underneath, the steady roar of a far-away and far-up airplane. It isn’t the one I’m listening for, the one my husband boarded this morning. That one, at the minute, is somewhere over Saudi Arabia. This time tomorrow he will have arrived at his destination–on the opposite side of the world. On my screen I’ve been watching the little cartoon plane creep along its blue dotted arc on flight tracker off and on all afternoon. Right now he’s just west of Iraq.

Many, Americans at least, would call it a “vision trip” but that language always makes me uncomfortable when applied to us–as if somehow we must go and get some special vision or something in order to serve overseas. We Christians have all been given the same commission, the Great one. We all have a spot prepared in advance for us to serve in (“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.Ephesians 2:10). It just takes some of us farther afield than others: it seems to us that our spot is in southeast Asia.

We’ll call it a survey trip. When it concludes some weeks hence, we he will have surveyed and, we pray, found the spot and the seminary at which we will serve. (He is also under orders to check for bears and inform Harriet promptly if any are spotted.) I remain at home to wait, to pray, and to act as lead cheerleader for any little people struggling with daddy’s prolonged absence. (Also to gestate. We are expecting baby in about 14 weeks.)

It feels momentous to us, this trip. We’ve been working up to it for about ten years. I think we both feel that it’s the beginning of a new era in our lives, a new part of our journey less predictable, less known, than the last. (Less known to us, but written in the account of our days already, see Psalm 139:16.) For that reason not going along makes me ache deep inside.

But, as leaving Daddy at the airport was harder for our children than anticipated, I’ve been greatly helped today by the need to focus on them. I didn’t think they’d realize it, exactly, but I was mistaken. On the way home it became absolutely necessary to take everyone out for doughnuts and make up silly passwords for the sister club (“Stinky Eyeballs” was today’s winner, offered by Harriet). We “had school” and did crafts and played outside (Hugh ran up to Daddy’s office window at the church and beat on the glass, calling, “Daaaaa-deeeeee!!”) and generally stayed busy. When anyone mentioned Daddy I exercised my elementary teacher’s gift of bright back-chat to such a degree that my oldest daughter told me that I clearly wasn’t missing Daddy like she does. Ha. She’ll sleep tonight.

Once everyone was asleep and silence settled in the house, the weight of it all has found a place to land–on me. I start to feel exhausted and alone and apprehensive and questions about the present and the future of my life beat me about the head as I do the dishes and line up school materials for the morning. One thought helps me at times like this: Jesus. This is not about me, this is about him. Today’s task may be small and seem somewhat unappealing: just trust and carry on with the next thing. But it is something small and unappealing I can do for Jesus. THAT is a privilege–and, with his help, we have everything we need.

“If a commission by an earthly king is considered an honor, how can a commission by a Heavenly King be considered a sacrifice?”
–David Livingstone

Posted in Jesus, Keep Calm and Carry On | 5 Comments