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Showing posts from 2015

And so it begins

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I can't believe my last post was back in June. It's now September. You'd think we were busy or something!!!

Home-schooling ended with more than a fizzle than a bang. Ethan finished everything he was supposed to get done to stay caught up with his class even a few days early. But that does not imply it was without tears or gnashing of teeth, or more often, simply just-below-the-surface irritation and an eye-roll suppressed only by the most extreme will-power.

I am not meant to be his teacher.

The rest of the summer passed in a haze of a great vacation, meetings, ministry, moving, and doctor's appointments. The kids had a blast. I rejoiced every morning the alarm didn't go off, and then rapidly reverted to cursing the craziness of four children and three dogs underfoot in our new, single story house. I was so used to saying, "Go upstairs!" in moments of exasperation, that once we had no upstairs I felt paralyzed. Until I realized the whole point of the …

From the Mouth of Babes

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I am task oriented. If you look the term up in the dictionary, I'm pretty sure my latest passport photo is there to sum it all up. It doesn't bode well for life in Africa, actually. Or life with 4 kids. 4 kids IN Africa almost puts me over the line into certifiable.

I've read so many books and blogs about motherhood, and its sacred value, and I believe it all with my head. But in the day-to-day grind its really hard for me to get excited about laundry which just gets dirty again, or dinner which gets rapidly devoured, has to be cleaned up off the table and floor, and then has to be wiped off bottoms the next day. (Sorry if that's too much--I'm a nurse with 4 kids. Poop stopped horrifying me years ago.) What they don't necessarily tell you about task-orientated people is that we want to do a meaningful task, check if off the list, and move on to the next meaningful task---not face the same mundane thing 17 minutes later. Because that's not accomplishing ta…

The days crawl as the months fly

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There are days I feel like I have nothing to write about--the dullness of life answering e-mail and breaking up fights between over-active children. And then 2 months go by, and I can't wrap my head around how to talk about all that has happened in those 60 days, and I swear to never let so much time go without updating this blog again!

In the past 2 months...

We lost our place of worship on campus due to a foiled attack at University of Nairobi; the terrorists were caught, but all religious meetings were banned from the dorms. We met outside in the center square for 5 or 6 weeks, and people (us included) were discouraged. And then, just when we were losing hope, one of our students found favor in the eyes of the officials and got us granted access again! Last week, we worshiped in our old Hall 3 TV lounge along with 24 others. God is Faithful in providing what we need to glorify His name!

Chad was arrested by a very angry police man for going12 miles/hr over the speed limit. Th…

It was the worst of times, it was the best of times

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Tragedy is raging around us, and we're not in the very middle of any of it.

But we've got court-side seats to a lot of it. Flames of others' heartbreak and suffering seem to lick at my feet at all times. Medical crises. Home invasions. Mental breakdowns. Violence. Al-Shabab. Threats. Violence. More violence.

And I know that it shouldn't overwhelm me; I am only a minor player in each event. But to be honest, it does. It grieves me, and tires me, and builds up, straw upon straw, on this tired camel.

I was on a business trip last week to an area near Ethiopia, and let me just give a shout-out to those working in that HEAT. Oh. My. Goodness!!!! It was a great trip, but a lot of work and a lot of sweat. Literally.
Lots of sweat.
I was there when the massacre occurred in Garissa, so I watched in remote horror from my hotel room. NOT AGAIN. Please, Jesus, not again. A couple of bales of straw fell as I saw those horrible photos from the aftermath.

And then I developed a ca…

Lessons Learned: Home-school Day 1

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I'm a planner at heart, so we made our steps towards home-school a full 2 weeks before it was to begin. We had our son finish out the quarter, have a big good-bye party with his class, and then enjoy his Spring Break. It was a decision that I think we were right on.

Today, Spring Break sadly over, his siblings climbed on the bus, and as we got them settled, he disappeared. After searching for him around the compound (with no small amount of trepidation over how on earth we were going to survive these 10 weeks) we found him sitting on the steps in front of his classroom. At 7:15am. I hadn't had nearly enough coffee yet!

So we decided there was "recess" first, while I drank my coffee and gathered his school books, and "prayed up" for the day.

3 1/2 hours later, we emerged...tired, a little overwhelmed, but successful. He had finished all his math, his reading, and his grammar. And I had come to several conclusions.

1. I no longer remember what constitutes …

Joining the Club

I have lots of friends who home-school; most out of necessity overseas in locations without other options, but many who do so out of conviction or preference or a combination of it all. Many of my friends thrive home-schooling, and some struggle. Home-school...Lots of reasons--lots of reactions--lots of opinions.

I never wanted to go there. In fact, by the second day of my first child's KG--when she had no desire to let me show her how to make a capital letter A, I knew that if I ever tried to home-school my children, one of us wouldn't survive; jury was still out on which of us would succumb first, but there was no doubt that one would.

When we answered the call to come overseas, we made sure it was a location that had a good schooling option for the children. One that did not involve me being mom and teacher.

Does that sound like I was putting limits on God???

That's exactly what I was doing. So 3 years later, after being challenged by David Platt's Radical Toget…

"There must be something in the staff," said Moses

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I have a love-hate relationship with Country music. If you don't remember my last emotional foray into it, you can catch up here. Country songs can be so great--they tell the story so much better than other genres. Or at least, more clearly. You can follow the plot--as opposed to, say, U2.

I love U2's Trying to Throw Your Arms Around the World, because it resonates with me, in theory. But honestly--tell that story. You've been working all night; you're tired and beaten; you're far from home; (I'm right there with you, Bono.) Then you dream of the Dali Lama at a grocery store hugging a woman and driving a car through a needle (an updated reference to the rich getting into heaven? I don't know!) Then you gotta make your faith see (ok) and a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bike (I've had that thought before, but...nope, you lost me).

So back to Country music, where the lyrics may be depressing but at least they make sense! To Chad's relief, we…

The Single Story

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I think my favorite blogger right now is a woman named Rachel Pieh Jones, writing at Djibouti Jones. I don't know her, but I resonate with her, struggling with expatriate issues and acculturation with deep authenticity. She has a great post called, When Rich Westerners Don't Know They are Being Rich Westerners that every cross-cultural worker and every short-term mission team should read as a pre-visa requirement!

I read that blog while on Stateside, and somehow with it I also discovered an amazing TED Talk by Nigerian author Chimamanda Adichie  regarding the Dangers of a Single Story. It's worth every one of the 17 minutes to listen to her!

Both hit me in the gut, at a time we were regularly telling the story of our past 4 years in Malawi and Kenya to churches and small groups and the few individuals who asked and then actually stayed around to hear the answer to "What was it like..." I immediately went back to our slide-show and watched it through my new lens…

Life's a Dance

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My dear husband made the sweetest offer.

"Go sit. Relax. Read a book. Drink something warm. I'll put the kids to bed tonight."

He's been gone a lot so far in 2015--away from Nairobi for something like 17 days of the first 31. It was all really important stuff, and I was happy to hold down the fort while he was gone, but I'm tired. Particularly tired of my nemesis, otherwise known as bedtime. My heart swelled at his offer.

I had been pondering several blog ideas throughout the day. Moses and his staff were on my mind. As was a scene in a great movie called Instinct. Swirlings of thought I figured might come together nicely with a hot cup of apple cider, my hair up, and my door closed against the bedtime routine of 4 happy, hyper children.

I got the cider made and the hair up, but just as I sat down...life.

Sometimes life comes in the form of an unexpected visitor, since we live at the guesthouse. Often it's a phone call. At times it's all forms of new-und…

Advanced Parenting: the Shame Shift

Confessions of a not-so-secret nerd: I've always loved school. Fresh notebooks? An excuse to buy pens? Life was great with a book bag and studying and learning new things every day. Even now I see my friends from Grad school on Facebook heading back for PhDs, and...I know, I shouldn't admit it, but I do--I feel a twinge of jealousy!

Funny I didn't have that same reaction when our counselor said we were incredibly blessed to have a child who would help us go beyond 'Parenting 101' into 'Advanced Parenting'. I was quite content being a 'good-enough-parent'...you know the kind? Nothing stupendous or miraculous, making my share of mistakes and learning as I go, but well-intentioned and full of love and always providing basic needs. No one is perfect; good enough seemed a reasonable goal.

Except that I forgot one thing. Being full of love and communicating love are two different things. There's this pesky little thing in communication called the o…

The 12th Man in a Crowd of Witnesses

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I love Hebrews 12 and the imagery of a race. The stands, the runners, the perseverance. 'Cause I'm good at perseverance. I often fail to stop and smell the roses, too focused on the goal to appreciate the journey, but I do grit really well. Head down, work to be done, let's go!

But, without taking a single ounce of truth out of Hebrews 12, an analogy can only go so far in explaining life. Life is too complex and messy and beautiful to be captured in one single simile. Or even one parable. Just think about how many times Jesus said, 'It's like..." Why? Because it's also like...

So, back to Hebrews 12. I'm a runner. I'm throwing off the entangling sin, and I've got a race marked out just for me. I'm fixing my eyes on Jesus who ran it first; the one who can ensure I make it across the finish line without growing weary or losing heart.

But you know where the analogy breaks down??? My friends and my family and my neighbors--
they're all runn…