Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Eight Years

David and I celebrated 8 years of marriage yesterday.  When we looked at the calendar to plan our month, the little anniversary was forgotten.  We remembered sometime this weekend as he was packing his bag for a trip. Ooops.  Old love is so much more comfortable.  He returned late last night from a training, just in time for leftover chicken noodle soup and some heart shaped sugar cookies that I made with the boys.  We really do it up big over here!

We took a lunch date today to catch up while the boys were at school and have plans for a visit to an exquisite palace restaurant. (yep, that's what you get to do when you live in old lands:)  I've been wanting to try it for a couple years! I'll keep you posted.

This also marks the week that we first landed in South Asia.  It was four years ago.  Almost half of our marriage has been lived in the land of curry and wild traffic.  There are some really difficult things about living overseas. And there are some tremendous gifts as well. Near the top of my list would be the impact that it has had on our marriage.

Generally speaking, when you travel abroad with people you get to discover things about them you might not otherwise know.  Crossing cultural boundaries has a way of stripping masks and exposing, for better or worse, what's underneath.  It removes the familiarity element that cloaks so much of who we are.  Experiencing that within marriage has been an unbelievable gift.

Little roots of shared comradeship, learning a language together, experiencing near-death rickshaw rides, watching friends and family wave goodbye in airports. Those little roots are growing down deep. This is the man who is by my side for better or worse, richer or poorer, sickness and health, near or far, this side of the globe or that one.  I'm functioning out of weakness a lot over here.  And that is a humbling and vulnerable place to be in any relationship.  In a marriage, it can build a wall or a bridge into deep places. I can hardly remember what life was like before this life together. That's a good thing. 

Here's to eight more years of growing in love with the man I'd marry all over again. I'm so glad he picked me!

Monday, October 5, 2015

hello, legs


Asher pulled himself up on the sofa for the first time today! He was sO happy about it.  I took a video to mark the occasion.

Um. If you dislike momma-baby-talk, you're gonna need to mute the volume.  I got just a little carried away in the excitement.  Now you know what I really sound like when I'm alone with this cutie.

I mean, who can maintain a cool voice when this kind of cuteness is around, right?! 

Saturday, October 3, 2015

as shoes for your feet

It's festival season in these parts. That means we're averaging one day out of school per week.  There are a lot of festivals.  I've been trying to prepare a bit for these days so that I can fill in some of the gaps in the boys' "spiritual" training.  Today we talked about The Armor found in Ephesians 6.  

To my wanna-be-warriors this is an exciting topic. We made paper shields and I threw "flaming darts" at them.  (Streamers taped on balls...we try not to throw flames in here unless we have to.) We did the old lemon juice on paper trick last week to help illustrate the reality of the unseen world.

As I was going through the passage last night in preparation, the shoes caught my heart. It says "and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the good news of peace."

I've been watching the news about the advancement of some dark forces into regions not that far away. Places where brothers and sisters in faith are under a threat so certain that every day they must feel they could be walking to their grave. It's stirring in me good questions. Drawing out natural fears in me. And reminding me that the Father gives grace to stand firm in situations where renouncing the name we bear is the only way out, apart from death itself.

These are not stories in a book of one of my heroes.  This is a drama playing out right now, in this world we live in. It will be at our doors sooner or later, or at the very least at our children's doors.

That kind of readiness can only be given by the good news of peace.  Those shoes can go anywhere and stand before anyone. Those shoes don't just offer peace to the places where we walk, the peace is there for the one walking.  The readiness of peace, promises that we bank on, an unseen world that we put confidence in - even if the world crashes in around us tomorrow. Which, quite frankly, seems rather likely of late.

He has given us everything we need.  Even these shoes for our feet. 


Thursday, October 1, 2015

Home foods

One of my favorite stories from South Asia is about a man who came to a language seminar with us. It was a small group and we were delving into grammar. If memory serves me correctly, I had a four year old and a two year old at the time. And the meeting room was my living room.

The plan, of course, was for the meals to be eaten at restaurants so that I could focus on grammar and not cooking. But generally speaking, South Asian men are very fussy about their food. When David announced the lunch plans, this particular man looked me straight in the eye and said, "Actually, I prefer home foods." 

This was a veiled yet strong way of saying, "A proper hostess would cook for me. Go get in that kitchen!"

Being the blunt American that I am, I looked him straight back and said, "Trust me when I tell you, you don't prefer my "home foods" today."

They promptly left for lunch. 

Since that day, the term "home foods" has become a recurring joke in our house. I use the phrase all the time with a lot of laughter....but to my neighbors, it's no joke. These people are serious about their food. Someone told me recently that they enjoyed their stay in the US but that her father in law was shocked by lack of attention American women give to the kitchen. It was his primary complaint against the culture. Homemade tomato soup or fresh spaghetti sauce and pasta are referenced in my neighborhood as "fast foods."  Burgers are expressly put in the junk food category. 

So this week I found it really entertaining when I told my friend I baked a bunch of sweets over the weekend. Hubs  and I ate way too many brownies and we were feeling lethargic. She proceeded to assure me that it was ok because they were homemade. I started cracking up and laughed that massive volumes of butter and sugar from my own kitchen are just as unhealthy as the ones in the bakery. She stood firm arguing that my butter had to be healthier than the ones they use "outside."  I concede she has a small point when it comes to preservatives, etc. But really?!

Home foods, friends. Go eat some home foods for me. 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Eat up

Wow. A friend just mailed me a box of baby food! Do you have any idea how hard this stuff is to come by around here? 

Asher is gonna be living it up at dinner tonight!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Our world

The baby has THRee teeth coming in. The boys were out of school Friday. We decided to hike to the top of an old fort. It was hot, and I am really out of shape. Hubs took the boys camping, inside our apartment complex park. He evaded the security guards, who have most definitely never thought to make a no-camping rule. They lasted until 8am.  Last night a family of six stayed in our apartment with us. They have four boys. We stayed up late laughing.  It was so much fun that Jude cried big tears on the way to school today after they left.  Thus week we have a serious kindergarten project going that involves moong dal. It's a lentil. (The last project never made it to the blog. It was an igloo. Out of ice. Not my best idea in equatorial living.) Silas cannot stop aggressively kissing Asher or singing  the 'war song' from Les Miserables. 

I think my vacation day lost effect somewhere along the way.

Who needs a vacation from this kind of fun though??!

Happy Monday!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

a day off

Hubs took a vacation day just to give me a day off.  What, you might ask, will I be doing?

1. Sleeping.  I'm gonna sleep a lot.  I forgot how babies make you tired….lose-your-mind tired.

2. This:

I've been waiting for this one.  Please don't judge me. I'm not sure I'm her target age range but I love her!  I started reading this series ten years ago…when I worked at a retirement home.  I'm not ever disappointed by Ms. Karon's work.  

I'm trying not to finish it today,  though I know it will require self-restraint.  Because, if I do finish it…that would have impacted goal #1: sleep. 


I'll be back after a few naps. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Asher, 7 months

Asher. Sweet, Asher! He's just a week shy of his 7 month birthday and all full of smiles.

He had his shots yesterday and has two pearly whites popping through the top gums so this isn't his happiest of days. But, generally speaking, he's holding to the laid back, happy third child model beautifully.  He hasn't really taken a shine to any of the food we've offered him this month but he likes the idea of it.

He's weighing in at 19lbs. He's sitting up and took his first 2 crawling steps on Friday.  He's mainly scooting along though and grabbing everything.

We l-o-v-e him!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

on returning

We've been back in the land of rickshaws and curry for about three months now. And I'll admit, it was much easier to settle into life this time.  We know a bit of the language.  I don't sit on the couch every night wondering how on earth to feed the family in the land of (in)convenience foods. Jude's plain rice (without spicy curry) at lunch is no longer a school issue. Silas knows how to hold his own in play school. Asher has adjusted fairly well to the cheek-pinch.  Hubs is enjoying more time to press forward in work now that I'm not juggling a language class schedule. Overall, we're settled.

It feels like home.  In an away-from-home kind of way.

Therein is the hardest point for me.  The first time we left our families, adventure was before us.  The second time, I knew what to expect….for better or worse. And, just like any country, there's plenty of better and plenty of worse. The first time we left, it felt like there was more light, at least in retrospect. The second time, certainly there was affirmation, but it was more of that long push toward obedience….obedience that feels like it might be staring you in the face for another 10 years or so.

The realities felt harder.  My kids won't get to share birthday parties with their cousins for another three years.  The grandparents will miss huge gaps in those lightening speed baby years. I'll feel lonely, a lot, and my sister will be asleep when I'm awake and ready to talk.

Settling back in certainly made it easier.  And I suppose it did, to an extent.  But the sting is still there…and the awareness that even after another 10 years, if I'm loving people like I should, the sting will still be there.  It's part of the package.

I have a few choices in the matter.  Life is so full of choices. I can obey joyfully, leaning into the Promise Giver. I can obey begrudgingly, tallying the cost at every turn and tapping my foot in impatient waiting.  Or, of course, I can disobey and bear the consequences that will inevitably follow. I'm working on the former rather than latter choices.

A friend who has been here much longer than I have stopped by the other day for a play date.  She made a simple statement that I found extremely helpful in processing.  As life seasons move forward, the cost of obedience keeps changing. You have to count the cost all over again because in every new season it's different.

But the promises never are. They are written in ancient stone, settled in the heavens, sealed for a coming day we can set all our hope on. Faith steps out again and again and again into unknown and sometimes back into the known-hard. It hopes for what is to come and lights it's eye on the promise of the Faithful One.

Self-Portrait, by Silas