Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Starting kindergarten

Tomorrow, Nadia starts kindergarten. She is super excited. We picked out her clothes and got her snack and water bottle ready. One minute she's practically dancing with excitement to go to school and then during our bedtime story she said she was nervous and then asked me to define nervous. I asked her how she felt and she said a little sad that neither Joel or I could go with her.

It feels incredulous that she's ready to go to school. It's half day kindergarten and (unlike her most of her friends from preschool who live in another school district) she gets to ride the bus one way. So at 8:37 am, we will be standing out on the corner waiting for the bus. At kindergarten orientation last week, they learned about the 'Danger Zone'- a 10 step area around the bus where the driver can't see. She wondered if she will have to go through it to get onto the bus.
Nadia on her 5th birthday in June

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Norman Rockwell Painting

Today, as we were finishing our last bites of lunch at our picnic table on our front porch, a guy stopped his car in the middle of the road to tell us that we looked like a Norman Rockwell painting and how lovely our family is. Last week someone told Joel our place looks quaint with two rope swings hanging from the large maple tree and our big garden.

Our live"Normal Rockwell" children

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Texts

It's been a year since we left Mozambique and the thing I miss the most are the texts. In Moz it was cheaper to text than to call and anything received didn't go against our pre-paid credit. So texts were often the way we communicated with friends and colleagues. Often I would get a text from a friend that would start a conversation. Sometimes it was serious, sometimes not. Many times the texts were just little things that one of us saw that we wanted to share with someone. For a while I had an on-going conversation about how hot it was. We would write texts to the tune of "You know it's hot when...(you burn your hand on the wall, you tell your sister it's cool at 90F, the hairs on your toes stand up because they don't want to touch each other).

But the texts meant more than the silly conversations. They were a sign of friendship that cared. The friends that we got to know in Moz became family. We shared life together, faith, laughter and tears, tea and meals together. I miss getting together with friends. We haven't found friends with whom we really click like that and sometimes it just aches.

To my friends...

Friday, July 26, 2013

A different reality

For the past six months I've been working at a domestic violence shelter. I answer the hotline, work with the residents of the shelter to find housing, and various administrative tasks around the safe house. I really like it. It is a refreshing change from the vague job descriptions that I had in Mozambique. I like working with the women, feeling like a listening ear makes a difference as well as working for peace. My hours have fluctuated--first part-time then full time because several co-workers left and now they have returned to part time which is better for me and our family. I work three shifts a week--a day shift, an evening shift and an overnight shift. For someone who has always needed a lot of sleep, I can only say it is by God's grace that I am adjusting to the weird hours and not always taking my exhaustion out on my family. I am learning to be more assertive (something I've always struggled with).

I (thankfully) have never experienced domestic violence. I find myself incredulous of the energies people go into to control another person--taking off shower curtains, removing wheels from cars, isolating them from friends and family, restricting what one can wear and the physical and verbal violence. I initially thought that I have lived a fairy tale life. I am now wondering if the life I have lived, in actuality, is what God wants everyone's reality. To live a life surround by love, enveloped in positive encouragement, supported in grace through failure and heartache. My prayer is that Christ's light shines through me to those whom I encounter and gives them a bit of God's all-encompassing love and grace.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A Year

I'm one of those people who remember dates. Saturday marked a year since we landed in the States, having completed our term of service with MCC. How do I summarize the year? We still have little inkling of what we want to do. The year has been about survival--learning how to live in the States again. Finances have been tight. Time has been tight. We miss the laid-back work schedules we had in Moz. We are both processors and we haven't had much time to process because it seems like we keep going just trying to get things done--the dishes, laundry, groceries, spending time with Nadia and Luke and working.

Working. We've been struck by how much Americans work. Joel's first job he worked 60 hours a week and was asked to work more. He changed to a job where he works 4-10+/- hour days and I found a part time job. A part-time job that turned into a full time job, sapping my energy, my sleep and any chance I have for quiet reflection. It was supposed to be 24 hours a week. It's now 38 hours; Joel and I overlap working about 5 hours. I like my job; I just wish it was fewer hours.

Is this what life is in the US? People running ragged to just pay their bills? We have modest bills. Our 'extravagance' is going out for ice cream with our kids once a month. We feel disconnected with people. We miss the family our friends provided to us in Moz (once we found friends, they became family), regularly getting together with friends.

Now that it is warm out, we eat outside on our front porch every chance we get. People going past look on us with smiles that say, 'How charming'. We even have a name for it--Jenny's on the Veranda. I love the view from our porch--our yard, the field beyond and then the small woods. I love watching the wind sway the knee high grass and tickle the far away leaves on the trees. I love the quiet of the space and the green, the expanse and the lack of excess movement.

For the first time in years, we're planting flowers, a vegetable garden. The daffodils, tulips and hiasynths that came up in the spring were welcome colors in the brown dirt. Now we're waiting for daisies, day lilies, sun flowers, zinnias, cosmos, cleome and lavender to bloom. The local farmers market has started up again and what a pleasure it is to buy fresh vegetables in the open air from small vendors. They dote on Nadia--offering fresh peas, strawberries and radishes to try. She tells them we have radishes in our garden already.



Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Gray

Today I feel like we've been trapped inside of the White Witch's Narnia, though without the snow. It's been gray and cold the past week. I find myself counting the days since I last saw the sun: 7. One time I remember counting gray days was the year I spent in Russia and lost track at 17. Today we have rain just at the freezing point so there's ice on the trees and bushes but puddles everywhere else.
 
It feels like it should be Advent or Lent, a time of dreary waiting. But it's not. I listened to 'O Come, O Come Emmanuel" while I washed the dishes after lunch, as if willing a burst of sunlight to miraculously pierce through the clouds to illumine the ice crystals or spring to unnaturally occur here and now on January 16. It didn't and I was struck by the words of the hymn, how they fit with winter's 'deadness', waiting for spring, longing for Jesus to appear. Then there's the chorus which challenges me when I long to complain yet again about the gray, when the drear threatens to overcome me and make me forget the good things that I have, "Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel". 

I'm reading a book about gratitude.  I've read several over the past several years and each one challenges me to be thankful for more than just the good things but to be thankful for everything. How do I be thankful for the gray? For things that are hard? For things that I don't like? Sometimes, I tell God I'm thankful for the gray in faith, praying that he will help me to appreciate something about the gray and to be truly grateful for it. It's hard. Like trying to rejoice when I'm sick of the clouds. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

In faith

Sometimes I do things in faith. I think that is one of the things that Moz taught me...

I hug my child with whom I am upset with in faith that my love for her is stronger than my anger.

We stayed in Moz even though it was hard, in faith that God was at work and we were part of it.

We settled back in the States where we did, for now, in faith that though, we did not sense God's movement to a particular place, we know that God is with us where ever we go and we will try to serve him.

It reminds me of Hebrews 11 and 12 where the author writes about all the people through the Bible who lived out their lives with faith without seeing its fruition. In some ways its investing in the future and in someways it is, as I read in my Advent devotional, living with "defiant joy" in the midst of suffering, the mundane or the norm. God is at work and we are a part of it even if we don't feel it.