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Monday, August 21, 2017

Unplug


"I am noticing that the more I fill my life with the convenience of technology, the emptier I become in the places of my deepest longing.

"I long for the beauty and substance of being in the presence of those I love, even though it is less convenient. 

"I long for spacious, thoughtful conversation even though it is less efficient. I long to be connected with my authentic self, even though it means being inaccessible to others at times.

"I long to be one who waits and listens deeply for the still, small voice of God, even if it means I must unplug from technology in order to become quiet enough to hear." 

~ Ruth Haley Barton "Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation"


I'm always learning and re-learning this one. You too?

May God form us into people who are strangely forgetful of our devices and who are present to our spouses, our children, our friends, our work, our passions & longings, and the still small voice of God.

Amen.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Celebrating Small Victories

"I worked so hard today, I got nothing done, and I am so tired."

This was the constant complaint out of my mouth for the first half of 2016 as we adjusted to life in a new country. In California, we operated fluently in the language, culture, and everyday life. When we moved, we stripped away most of our competency. In Thailand, everything was (and is) foreign and new. We worked hard those first months to complete the simplest tasks. The systems are different here, so moving required constant learning for several months.

At the end of most days, complaints were on my lips. "Michael, can you believe it took me three hours to get the grocery shopping done? I could do it in a little over an hour back at home with both kids in tow." "Michael, I only got in an hour of Thai study today because Cora wouldn't nap!" "Michael, today I got nothing done."



Enter: the outlook changing practice of acknowledging and celebrating small victories.

After a few months of complaining, we decided to begin talking about all we accomplished rather than all that we didn't get to that day. We would take turns most evenings. One of us would list out for the other all we did and the other acknowledged the hard work that went into each of those victories no matter how small.

Our lists were simple, "Today, I reviewed my Thai tutoring session, learned where to buy the shoes Grace needs for preschool, and called my mom." (Though I must admit, it took at least a month to reach that level of productivity in a single day!)

When we acknowledged the hard work that went into even a small victory, at the end of the day, we felt proud. We felt grateful each evening for the progress we had made in learning to operate in a new language and culture.


Even today, we sometimes feel frustrated and tired at the end of a day or week that appears to be fruitless. So, when we notice our hearts bending toward dissatisfaction and complaint, we stop to acknowledge and celebrate small victories together.

For you, it may not be moving around the globe with little children that has taken away your competency. But, there may be something else that has stolen your ability to produce -- becoming a parent, starting a new job, coping with chronic physical or mental illness, etc. So, I encourage you. When you are able, try listing out your victories, large and small, to a friend or even to yourself. I hope it's a game changer for you too.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Third Kid

We're anticipating the arrival of our third kid in about three months. I've noticed some pretty major differences between pregnancy with the first, second, and third baby. For instance...

Ultrasound pictures

Baby #1 - Newest ultrasound pic is always on the fridge

Baby #2 - Forget the ultrasound pics at the OB's office. Have to go back in to get them. Once home, they eventually go on the fridge... I think.

Baby #3 - Ultrasound printout turns into scratch paper for big sisters' butterfly project.



Naming the Baby

Baby #1 - Start talking about names well before you know the gender. It takes months, lists, perhaps even an excel spreadsheet and a couple arguments.

Baby #2 - Realize your baby grows into whatever name you give it, so just choose something you both like. Decision relatively painless.

Baby #3 - Don't even mention names until you know the gender. When you find out the gender (boy!), choose the baby's name in one 20-minute sitting.

Levels of Tiredness

Baby #1 - Tired.

Baby #2 - Tireder.

Baby #3 - I'm gonna die.

Baby Moon

Baby #1 - Baby moon spent at a B&B in a quaint, artsy little town on California's central coast having long conversations over lattes, touring a mansion, and taking lots of pictures.


Baby #2 - Grandparents watch baby #1 and we get away for one night at a local hotel, sleep until 10am (!), eat an enormous breakfast buffet, and take one terrible selfie. Decide two days before going to call it an anniversary getaway and a baby moon.

Baby #3 - Grandparents thousands of miles away. Take the whole family to an inexpensive, family friendly beach "resort." It will feel like vacation because we will not have to do laundry, cook, do dishes, or clean. Amen.

Baby registry

Baby #1 - Baby registry takes many long hours to complete. Advice from the internet and other moms is absolutely bewildering.

Baby #2 & #3 - Feel confident about what your needs and wants. Preparing for the baby is almost stress-free. Yes!

There are some strong similarities between all three pregnancies, too.

Worry

Baby #1, #2, and #3 - Worry but try not to worry about miscarriage the entire first trimester. During the second and third trimester, start to worry whenever you don't feel the baby kick for a couple of hours. Breathe a sigh of relief as you pass important viability milestones... 28 weeks (sigh), 32 weeks (sigh), 37 weeks (full term!).

Anticipation

Baby #1, #2, and #3 - The anticipation for and the love for each child is the same. We marvel at how each kid steals your entire heart, but then when another kid comes, your heart grows and the next kid completely steals it as well! We are so looking forward to October when we get to see our little boy's face and hold him in our arms and be enraptured once again by a tiny human who does nothing but poop, cry, nurse, and sleep.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Grandparents Visit

I'm really close to my parents and they live 8,400 miles away (really, Google? That far?!) so there's almost nothing more magical and more special than when they come for a visit.

My dad was given a three month sabbatical from work. He spent the very first day of his sabbatical watching my nephew's adoption at the courthouse, going to the subsequent adoption party celebrating both my niece and nephew, and then hopping on an airplane with my mom that evening to fly to Thailand. Can you tell he loves his grandkids?

They headed back to Colorado almost a week ago, and I finally looked through my pictures tonight. May these memories carry us through to the next time we see them... we don't know yet when that will be.

~

Cora hadn't seen this set of grandparents since October, but she clearly settled right back into her granddaughter role.


Grace sliding down a water slide into Nana's arms at a waterpark on the roof of a Bangkok mall.


Precious.


Cora would have been terrified if she wasn't in Papa's arms.


The new school year began two days before my parents left, so they got to send off our little preschoolers. But, you'd better believe we kept our kids home the next day, the last day their grandparents were in country.



Thursday, May 4, 2017

Writing to Share - Final Thoughts

Over the past couple of years, I've written more and more in my private journals and shared less and less here on my blog. At the end of March, I decided to post ten times in the month of April instead of just once or twice. I didn't know what would happen, but I knew I felt inspired and excited by it.

I enjoyed the challenge, but I also found that I have to let my words compost. I dump the apple cores, carrot peels, hacked off vines of my words into the compost pile of my journals. Turn them over. Wait. Let the sun heat them and the rain wet them and the insects crawl and eat and defecate all over them.



Then, when the organic matter has morphed into rich, rich soil, I finally share those words. And, by grace, I get to watch shoots spring out of those words. And to see already established trees and plants enjoy the nourishment of rich soil.

I cannot produce "content" quickly or it is just silty dust hastily shoveled up and scattered out to plants with little nourishing power.

My words must be chewed, mulled over, sifted, played with, enjoyed. Then, shared.

So, over the next few months, I'll be going back to posting as ready. And when that little baby comes in October, who knows what will happen! All I know is that everything will change.

Here are my ten posts written (mostly) in April:

Writing to Share - An intro to my writing challenge

Kids One Year Ago and Today - Some thoughts on my kids' adjustment process from moving from California to Bangkok, Thailand

I've Never Read the Whole Bible and That's OK

Conversation Between a Toddler and a Preschooler

How to Wash Your Clothes When You're New to Thailand - Remembering those nutty first weeks of our international move.

14 Thoughts at 14 Weeks - A few lighthearted thoughts on my third pregnancy.

Tropical Birds - A homage to the birds outside my bathroom window.

A Monday in My Life - No two days and no two weeks are the same, but here's one recent Monday in my life.

Currently Loving - Four things I'm enjoying from a fun app to my kids' school pictures to a couple of great books.

And this post makes 10!

Thanks for following along! I don't think I'd do this without readers... you!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Currently Loving...

These days, I'm currently loving...

FaceApp

Get it on your phone, take some selfies with friends, and run them through the filter. You will laugh so hard! Here are my husband's results - normal, woman, 30 years older, and with a smile pasted on. The old Michael kills me! So so so weird.


My kids' school pictures


At the start of every school term, we walk our girls to the local photo shop owned by a Chinese-Thai man. The shop is old and dark and smells strongly of incense. Piles of paper and supplies cover every surface and there are idols and amulets everywhere along with two of the oldest most yellowed photo printers I've ever seen. He ushers us into the dark, back corner of the shop to take their mug shots school pictures. Their faces clearly show how they feel about the whole thing!

I put these photos through FaceApp. The app must be made just for adult faces because the results were - yikes.

The Chief Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny

I got my hands on my second Gamache murder mystery novel (#4 in the series). I'm enjoying it so much just like I enjoyed the first. I love the author's descriptive writing and the way she builds suspense.

Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes by Kenneth Bailey

The author has lived in the Middle East almost all his life. He takes well-known stories from the four gospel accounts of Jesus' life, teachings, and miracles and explains them through Middle Eastern culture/worldview. The chapter on Jesus' birth (spoiler: he probably was born in a home, not a stable or a cave) and the entire section on interactions with women (spoiler: he's radical, awkward, and empowering) are two highlights. Highly recommended for anyone who wants to do a deeper study of the gospels with culture at the forefront.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

A Monday in My Life

Every week and every day is different, but here is one Monday in my life...

6:30

Wake up and try to go back to sleep. But can't. Zone out on my phone for a few minutes before getting out of bed.

7:00

Appear downstairs where my whole family is just starting breakfast and find out that Michael feels pretty sick. The girls were sick last week, I got it a couple days ago, and now Michael has it.

During breakfast, we call my brother-in-law to wish him a belated happy birthday. With the 12 hour time difference, we have very limited windows where our girls and family in the US are all awake, so when Jason and Andrea don't pick up, we just take a video of us singing Happy Birthday and send that instead.

8:00

Michael drops the girls off at The Well's daycare program. We're in the long, hot season school break right now and our nonprofit org runs a daycare so women enrolled in their program or employed by The Well can continue working. Our kids go about three mornings a week. Great Thai language immersion!

While Michael drops them off, I head to the pool to swim laps for 15 minutes, shower at home, see a missed call from Jason and Andrea, so I call them back and we squeeze in a little catch up right before their evening church small group starts up.

9:00 

Find out Michael has decided to try to push back our Thai lesson to later in the week because he just doesn't feel good. Fine with me because I haven't prepared for our lesson yet. 

I clean up breakfast dishes and then go run errands around my neighborhood which always entails a lot of walking and sweating. I pay the fees for the new school year starting in May, stop by work to schedule a meeting with a woman who I'm doing a project with, buy a bunch of bananas from a street vendor, and run into a friend and chat for a few minutes.

10:00

Return home. Check some emails. I feel so tired from running errands in the heat, I prepare a large snack / small lunch before I head out to pick up the girls.

11:00

Pick up the girls from daycare. Both of them are cranky from heat, hunger, and tiredness. One of them is really disobedient too. I pile them into the single BOB stroller, big girl in the normal spot, little girl sitting on the footrest. They whine off and on the whoooooole way home. We pick up Thai style grilled chicken and sticky rice for lunch. When we get home we eat it with the bananas I picked up earlier.

12:00

Down for naps! Well, Cora sleeps, Grace plays alone in our room for a little over an hour. I sit down and detox from my kids' whiny-ness. Then, review some Thai.

This afternoon, Michael is watching the girls. We do lots of trading back and forth of who's working and who's "on the girls." My work hours come out to about 18+ and his to about 22+. Altogether, we work 40+ hours per week.

1:00 

I overworked last week, so I decide to use my afternoon to try out a new, "expensive" hair salon recommended by my American friend, Judy. In the chaos of the past 18 months, I've only gotten my hair cut once and I desperately need many inches chopped off. I get a little lost on the way there, but eventually find it. I get my hair washed (including a head massage), cut, and styled. And I love the final result! I think I've finally found my Bangkok hair salon! Makes my life here feel even more like home. Total cost: not even $9.



2:45

Drive home. The pressure of the seatbelt across my lap makes the baby kick. Hi there, little one! I see a plant store with gorgeous potted flowers I've been eyeing since we moved here. I stop and look at them. Standing in the sun in 100 degree heat is making my brain fuzzy, so I decide not to buy this time, then head the rest of the way home.


3:00 

Get in some good work time preparing for my next Thai lesson and then sending off an email to prayer supporters.

5:00 

The girls watch Daniel Tiger on PBS while Michael and I cook an extra yummy meal - homemade hamburger patties with sauteed onions and white wine sauce, snap pea and cherry tomato salad with oil and vinegar dressing, boiled potatoes, and a "banana milkshake" (aka spinach, bananas, and milk blended for the girls).

6:00 

Michael cleans up from dinner (a big job with all the cooking and no dishwasher!) and I bathe the girls who are 100% sweet, cute, and playful.

7:00 

I see the tiredness in Grace's eyes (remember how whiney she was earlier and how she didn't nap?) so I put them to bed early. We clean up a bit more and then watch the most recent episode of TLC's Nate and Jeremiah by Design featuring our friends and former pastors Janelle & Allen! We have trouble with our internet being slow and our VPN not working great, so it takes well over an hour to watch the 45 minute show, but it is so worth it!

9:00

Get all ready for bed and then start a Chief Inspector Gamache mystery novel that I just downloaded to Kindle yesterday. Such a fun series!

10:15

Asleep.

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