Sunday, January 05, 2014

When we all get to heaven...

What a day of rejoicing that will be.

 Marvin was this bear of a man. He hugged like God's own bear hug and Marvin loved the size of the God he served.  He was a hugger.  I remember meeting Marvin when  I was in High School.  He took a week of preaching each summer at church camp and that was the week my High School youth group always went to.  My friends all knew Marvin from years back.  His daughters were our age and good friends.  So not unsurprisingly there was hugging.  But when he got to me, a teenage girl he'd never met, well, that didn't matter to him, I got a hug.  I'm not a hugger by nature you see and had never been around men huggers.  I found it off putting as he wrapped his arms around me but Marvin's hug is a little like a bear hugging you.  Its all encompassing and big and just enough wild with love and joy that you think for a second he may actually throw you up in the air but then that would be ok because there is this bear to catch you in softness and love.  Its the hug dads ought to give to their girls but he gave it to every man, woman and child he met.  That is how he loved people, in a big all encompassing, wild and free kind of way.   He came and pastored at my home church about the time I left university.  But he was there when I was home and it was always a pleasure to sit and talk a bit.  He met my husband, he hugged my husband and Jonathan loved him.  Through the years and the hardships and the joys we'd walk along and every now and again catch up in person with Marvin- that was the best way to catch up with Marvin, in person, because you got the full weight of his person and his love for you and it was like seeing the love God has for you sitting on the couch .  I'm thankful for that. 

Marvin developed cancer sometime in the fall and went fast from there. I'm glad for that bit. No one wants to think about a teddy bear suffering.  But I'm sorry.  Sorry for his wife, sorry for his kids, and kind of sorry for myself and my kids- no more walking into Marvin's life and feeling the hug of God from a physical person.  But he's free, and being hugged by God (now there is a mental picture, a God like hugger hugging God- wrap your brain around that hug fest).  When we all see Jesus, we'll sing and shout and hug!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

the helmet

My new houseworker came into my office the other afternoon and said "Sorry I need to leave my husband called and my son needs to go to the doctor."  I'm a mom, so instant concern "need to go to a doctor" here means kid is pretty sick or hurt.  Turns out kid has had typhus several times and he's got a fever again so they figure best get him in to start the meds.   So in the scheme of things here - a big enough deal but not a SERIOUS deal.  Little like your kid getting strep in the states, inconvenient, need medicine but not looking  at hospitalization.  The next day houseworker apologized that she wasn't able to finish things yesterday.  She was trying to explain away what happens to all moms when the kid gets sick, hurt, unknown- we kind of loose our mind.  Its really not somethning we have a lot of control over.  They have to tell the moms to put the oxygen mask on themselves first for a reason. 

So we got @ a new bike this week.  He's way past outgrowing the old one and the bike we bought is about an inch too big.  We're pretty sure come a month from now it won't be.  I bought him a new helmet too.  In our neighborhood and in our corner of the world, no one wears a bike helmet.  Its been a 10 year campaign from the government to get people to wear helmets on motorbikes here and most still don't in the neighborhoods.  So my kid on his bike with a pretty fancy helmet is wierd.  Its another thing that marks him as an "other".  I feel bad about that.  I've kind of been wrestling with it, maybe he doesn't need to wear the helmet when he's riding in driveway.  I mean really, its the driveway.  Its fenced in.  Probably he is fine.  Probably the fussing about the helmet in the driveway is a bit much. 

Interject on all of this, my nieces.  My oldest niece lost a dear long time friend a week ago.  And you guessed it, a helmet could have/ would have/ should have made a difference.  I really know next to none of the situation besides the 15 yr old FUN kid was an avid skateboarder but not an avid helmet wearer.  Stupid accident.  Accident that could have happened a million different ways and kid suffered head injury and kid died.  Kid died.  Now that just isn't right.  In your head, kids don't die.  But they do.  And there are no words for that grief.  None. And that story plays out a million times all over the world, quite sadly.  But my poor nieces and these families. 

This week marks a year of walking a terrible walk in our family.  Pain I would throw myself in front of a bus to try to have avoided.  Pain that bears no real exterior scars but is just like walking around after having your chest cut out.  We're healing and we have been delivered and I am thankful. But there is NOTHING I wouldn't have done to prevent the pain.  Nothing.

So thinking about this family, and the pain and my family and the pain (and, of course you understand, my child is still here and theirs is not so we're really comparing apples to fish on the pain scale, i know that) my kid is wearing the helmet and he's lucky he's not wearing it to bed at night.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

The things we do for health

Its remarkable the crazy lengths you can go to in the name of good health.  What I'm finding is that what used to be the crazy thing your aunt used to do because "I read it in reader's digest at the doctor's office", is now everywhere you turn on the internet.  Facebook, Pinterest, your good best friend's blog.  They're telling you all kinds miracle cleanses for your body.  You're taking a whole day to drink lemon juice and water for something about your kidney. Or is it the gall bladder.  I don't know but its supposed to be good for you.

So I was readding a week or so ago from a friend's post and cinnamon, turmeric and honey are supposed to be my new favorite superfoods.  Turmeric is supposed to lower my inflammation.  Honey and cinnamon do something but I forget what.  I've also been green smoothie-ing for awhile now too.  I've learned that beets really taste like dirt.  That's not a good/ bad judgement but a statement of true facts: Beets taste like dirt.  Like physically eatting dirt.  I'm ok with that.  They don't taste necessarily bad but I can taste the dirt. Answer: Honey and cinnamon.  So now in goes a great big shake of cinnamon in my morning smoothie. Cinnamon, turmeric, banana, spinach or kale, zuchini or pumpkin, beets or carrots, apple or pineapple, if i'm feeling loving and kind to my children, strawberries.  The pain in my hips and knees has gone away so I'm going to count it as a win.

Newest additions to the live forever diet: honey and green tea.  They're supposed to do something for you.  I don't remember what but it was a long list including things like blood pressure, inflammation etc- probably improve my memory for archaic dietary nonsense.  But I decided I enjoy green tea, provided it has honey.  I also found out green tea with jasmine is really nice too, even without honey.  Now my day includes an after lunch cup of tea.   

The gallbladder nonsnse I was having a problem with a few months ago seems to have taken care of itself with settling into a return to healthy eating lifestyle and chamomile tea.  Chamomile is going to help the bile and gall bladder something or other. 

I read some stuff.  Its pretty convincing and came from lots of sources but honestly, I feel like your crazy aunt who drinks apple cider vinegar (y'all, for serious, don't start with me on the health benefits of apple cider vinegar- its just too out there for me).  My nieces and nephew need a crazy aunt- they're surrounded by highly normal, creative, clever people so I'm happy to take the goofy title. 

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Things I've Done Right: my teapot

I get a little down on myself every now and again.  Lately I’ve had a tough go of feeling like I’m making good choices.  It’s ok.  You have good days; you have not as good days.  But there are things that make me smile.  Things I can see that I’ve done right.  Today it’s my tea set. 

This last summer we went to China.  I knew when we talked about going and the opportunity came up we HAD to do it.  We’re good savers and so the money of getting there wasn’t an issue.  We would be with friends so they would help with the logistics. Getting visas was way too complicated for a 7 day tourist visit but I’m glad we did it.  While we were there we saw all of the touristy things- the stuff you’re supposed to see.  The Great Wall, Tiananmen, the Forbidden City, etc.  My mom was coming to visit us in our country just a bit after we got back from China and I thought getting my mom some kind of tea would be just the thing- you know “All the tea in China.”  So one afternoon while we were roaming the city we went into a market.  We needed milk and fruit for our hotel room.  You can buy cherries in China, I was obsessed.  But I thought while I was there I would watch and see what other ladies were buying in the tea stalls and I would buy some of what they were buying.  A friend had already given me some pointers on how to buy tea in China.  1.  If you like the smell of it, you’ll probably like the taste of it.  2.  Bigger is better when it comes to tea leaves.  When the tea is all diced up, you’re probably getting second skimmings.  So with my pointers and my long held belief that if you find a woman you think you look like, sometimes you’ll shop like her too; I was ready to buy tea in China.  Well I went into a booth and started smelling.  I had pretty well settled on a leaf from my mom but the shop lady wanted me to sit and try to the flowers.  Chinese tea shops are full of flowers.  Lovely bins of dried flowers.   And I have no idea why.  So the lady heats up the kettle and begins putting flowers in a glass tea pot.  Then a lump of rock sugar.  Then she fills it.  And ooohhh… the flowers come to life and swirl and dance.  Instantly ensorcelled. So I’m sitting and somehow I’m chatting with this woman in my not Chinese and her not English and our points and signs.   And she warms the teeny cups and the tea swirls.  And she pours out a little cup for me and a little cup for her.  And we’re two ladies sipping a spring meadow together.  No kidding.  Jonathan comes around with two over tired kids and he doesn’t want to sip tea he wants to go.  But he sips tea and now Jonathan is sitting in the meadow with us and the stains on !’s dress are just cherries from a funny man in the market who filled her pockets and @ isn’t fidgety, he wants to play tea too.  And so I bought tea flowers and the lady went through the recipe with me 3 times, teaching me what I had just bought because the Chinese take their tea seriously and the lady didn’t want me to just buy tea, she wanted me to appreciate her passion.  So I learned my Chinese numbers and words for my tea.  She wanted me to buy the pot (which I’m sure was necessary for the complete meadow and for her profit margin) but my cheapness got the better of me.  I did end up buying a tea pot later in the airport with the extra bits of money we had in Yuan (and it was cheaper than her pot). 

While my mom was here we got out the tea pot and played tea on several occasions (not enough for my mom).  And my mom did it just right, something about those flowers dancing in the hot water and we were all schoolgirls.  Just giddy at playing tea.  The only problem with this tea pot is that as high as it takes you when you are watching the tea steep and pouring it into glasses, you really don’t want to let the tea pot be empty.  There is just a little tinge of regret when you realize that it’s time for playing tea to be over.  The flowers are finished for this go around.  The good news is that I bought a lot of tea flowers.  And so we have more times of play to come.  And I have a promise from my friends in China that they will buy me more tea flowers when I have need. 

Moral of the story: I need to remember to take my tea box down from the shelf and make a pot of flowers. 

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

rainbows and a breakthrough

I'm obsessive about water.  Not having water makes me crazy with worry.  When we lived in Africa we had water one day a week, most weeks.  That wasn't drinking water- that was whole house washing, bathing, etc water.  We were blessed with a house that had a ton of water tanks. Huge water tanks.  But if you aren't sure that the water is going to actually come on Saturday like it is supposed to then you need to make sure that every drop counts.  So normally I'd fill buckets with laundry water to mop the floors with.  We washed dishes once a day and laundry was done when the water was flowing.  Jonathan and I learned to bath in a bathroom sink of water. 

Anyway, 7 years and a continent difference and I'm still obsessive about water. Generally I can't make myself stop.  So wasting water is a big no no in my house.  The house we have now gets city water every other day- for the most part.  We have a large outside cistern and then 2 water tanks on the roof.  For the water to flow into the outside ground cistern it has to be turned on and then turned off or the water will flow all over the ground (again, making me nuts).  And then we turn on the pump to take the water from the ground cistern up to the roof tanks.  The roof tanks give us water pressure throughout the house.  So most mornings, I start the day by opening the front doors and going out to check the cistern and turn on the water.  I go out later to turn it off. When I see that the cistern is pretty well full, I face a crazy lady dilemma.  Do I 1. Turn off the water knowing that the cistern isn't full to the brim but is more than satisfactory.  or 2.  Go back inside and wait anoter 15-30 minutes to let the water go all the way to the tippy top because you never know.  or 3. Stand around on the front porch for a few minutes pulling weeds in the flowers, wrestling with my own crazy obsession and waiting to get a few more minutes of water.  Yeah, its normally 2 or 3.  But today, Today, it was #1!!!  This, people, is a serious crazy lady breakthrough.  And clearly I'm still obsessing, I just wrote 2 paragraphs on water. 

We've had a few hard days this last week, full of worry and feelings of hopelessness.  But guess what God did today.  A rainbow.  No kidding, a great big beautiful rainbow.  Actually it was a double but the second part didn't show up well in the pictures.  I went out at dinner to obsessively turn off the water and I saw it.  I was able to turn off the water with a little less anxiety tonight because of the rainbow.  The light went really quickly though.  It had been raining most of the afternoon and the sun only came out to set.  But there it was.  A rainbow for the soul asking for hope.  So thankful

Sunday, April 07, 2013


The thing is, I had honestly forgotten how to log in to the blog.  No joke.  We've kind of had this wild swirl of activity in the last 7 months.  Undefineable ups and downs.  Serious downs with some peaks really.  Then the computer crashed- which is the high tech version of your dog eating your homework.  And here we are.  Good news, apparently my resurrected computer and my new start page from google really want me to blog because it puts it front and center and somehow I'm already logged in- which is probably a security problem. 

So let's start for today. I've had this stomach ick for about 3 months.  And its the burping, I'll save you the details but I could make high school boys fully loaded with carbonated drinks blush.  I sound awful.  So I've been flipping through my head and my diet and my diet isn't great.  I just need to do better.  The months of highs and lows have been months of highs and lows in the diet too.  I cook a ton but I'm baking more than I'm stir frying.  Meatless Mondays have become "I'll remember that next week."  I have started green smoothies and I think that has staved off worse problems.  I'm going to try to buckle down a little this week, buy some brocolli and tempeh and make a stirfry with rice. 

We've also been kicking over every rock we can find for a visa.  Now, folks, visas for us are like kryptonite, we can't touch them but they strip the life right out of us.  I'm praying for some serious long term victory in the visa department but I'm clinging to hope.  Its never good to be skin of teeth on hope. 

Oh and we moved.  We moved about 10 times in the last 7 months to be exact- no kidding.  Several of the moves were shuttling between hotel rooms.  The next 6 months looks to be more of the same, less hotel rooms hopefully.  But probably a whole house move. 

So welcome back to disconnected blog chatter, I've missed you.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

China Southern plays chicken

This summer we traveled out to China.  We were going to see friends and had decided this was the time to take that one once in a lifetime trip.  Do the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, temples- all that stuff.  We booked with China Southern from Jakarta through to Beijing.  We got ! a seat.  She's not yet 2 (only 18 months at the time) and we've learned that more than 4 hours is really hard to lap sit.  You can't take the money with you but you can choose to spend it on therapy or an extra seat.  On our way there China Southern failed to impress when they left us sitting on the tarmac on the plane for 5+ hours and then filled the plane with more people.  So uncool.  On the way home they failed to impress when they canceled !'s seat.  We had 4 seats  and they had given us that middle aisle row of 4 seats- perfect for a family because no one else has to be disturbed by my kids.  They sold !'s seat to someone else and he was now sitting in between me and my son.  Needless to say, Mom got mad.  The attendant kept telling me that I didn't book that seat, until I showed him my receipts and itinerary.  Then he said but its not booked now, she doesn't have a seat.  To which I explained that he could "hand me a $1000 and it wouldn't be her seat anymore but until then she was a ticketed passenger with a paid seat.  Find another place for this nice gentleman."  And he did, but not without coming back and trying to guilt me by telling me she actually isn't booked.  I got home and found that an hour before the flight my yahoo account had recieved an email telling me that her seat had been cancelled.  Pretty cheeky I thought given that China didn't allow me access to my yahoo account the entire time I was in country.  

 All of that huff and guff to lead into this story about American Airlines bouncing kids around the plane with hopes of parents paying fees.  China Southern did this one too.  With @ sitting 5 rows ahead of Jonathan and I and ! sitting 10 rows back.  @ is now 8 and a hard core traveller, we had no worries about him so long as he was on the plane with us.  ! is again pretty small but if they really think that is a good idea- I double dog dare them to sit her away from us.  No problem.  At check in they saw what was going on and reseated us before we even asked.  Blinked!  I'm not really that sassy but I won't blink either when it comes to airlines being obviously stupid. 

As it turned out @ did end up sitting by himself on at least one leg coming home.  It was great.  Jonathan and I had ! between us.  @ sat between two gentlemen in front of us.  We talked with them.  Introduced @.  Helped him get situated with his things and understanding the entertainment guide.  Asked what kind of juice he'd like and chicken or beef.  Then we left him be, which he loved.  He watched a few movies and the men sitting on either side would smile when @ got to laughing at his movie.  They were happy to let him in and out and I was proud to see he said "Excuse me" and "Please".  All told and excellent leg of the trip.  But @ is a rare bird. He's been around the block a bit and I wouldn't recommend doing this for the 5yr old going to Disney World. 

Shame on you airlines.  Way to loose the family friendly vote.