Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Soap Suds and Sermons

For the past several months, when my pile of dirty dishes threatens to eat my sink, my counters, my sanity and maybe even the children...I settle in for the night with soap suds and sermons.

I don't know about you, but sometimes when I washing and rinsing and scrubbing...I am also whining, complaining and despairing.  Not just over dishes, but over the day.  I have a scripture taped above my kitchen sink that reminds me to give thanks...but sometimes I look past it and give gripes instead.

Lately, my mind has been on a roller-coaster ride of encouragement and discouragement.  A mental up and down.  All the excitement is a little exhausting!  One day filled with promise and the next day, I am zoning out on the couch simply because I don't know where to start at getting through my goals and lists and promises and expectations...

And, while I spend another night washing away the grime of tonight's dinner (or...psst...last week's coffee cups!), I turn up the volume of my computer and turn down the volume of thoughts in my head.  I turn on a sermon.

Tonight I listened to this sermon at  It was all about the Holy Spirit.  And I need the rest that Jimmy Seibert talks about that the Holy Spirit gives us to deliver us from striving and working and trying to do it "all" myself.  Yes, I have been filled by Him before.  Why in the world did I think that it was enough then?  I need more now.  Now.  I can be filled anew today.

The soap suds cover my hands and the sink and the counter and my heart.  I really feel cleaner tonight.  And so do my dishes.  I can finally rest my mind and go to sleep in His presence.

How much do you need His rest today?  

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Coffee = Love

Thanks, Treav.  My Valentine's gift is perfect.

I have the most wonderful husband in the world.  For Valentine's day a few weeks ago, he took me on a fabulous date to celebrate our Engagement Anniversary (8 years!).  We went out to eat at a little restaurant on the river, watched the sunset, ate steak (yay!), took a walk, bought decadent desserts...then, slept in the next morning, ate brunch out and walked around the mall.  We did many of our favorite things...all without kids (thanks to Nick and Steph who watched our little nuggets)!  

8 years since we were engaged - on Valentine's Day!

And, because we took our date the weekend before Valentine's, I thought I had received all the gifts I needed...but Treavor surprised me with my new favorite coffee mug (the pic up top!), and these flowers:

I am so thankful for him today!  

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Perspectives On My Molehills

this is a molehill.  IE: not quite a mountain from this perspective.

Today during my Thai language lesson, I was moved to tears.  And, not just because of my bad accent.

My teacher had just come from the funeral of a little baby that died just yesterday while travelling on a plane from his home country to here.  He wasn't even yet one and a half years old.  Since his birth, he had a heart condition, and was constantly sick.  His father, who my teacher doesn't even know, is a missionary here.  He had just taken his sick son on a plane to their home country to get a medical exam for his condition.  His son's health was failing even more, and their family decided to move back home to care for him better than they could here.  On the plane ride back to Thailand, just yesterday, while in the air...the baby boy died.  

My teacher, who heard of the story but didn't know the family, was so moved by compassion for this expatriate family.  She attended the boy's funeral this morning and met me this afternoon for my language lesson.

Putting myself, for just a second, in the minds of the family that are going through this shocking and painful trial...makes my own problems and trials melt away.  

Yeah, I have troubles...sometimes I have to discipline whiny children, I get sick every now and then with colds and allergies, I have a constant supply of dirty dishes in my sink and emotional ups and downs.  

But, I can never even begin to fully understand and relate with what this family is going through. We have a mutual hope in Jesus and in His sovereignty...but my faith has never been tested to the level theirs has.  I could not imagine losing one of my own precious little ones like they have.  

My mountains become mere molehills.  I am humbled, and sad, and thankful.  

Thankful for what I have, while I have it.  My life, as I know it today, isn't guaranteed to be the same tomorrow.  

It doesn't mean that my problems don't matter.  Or, that God doesn't care about my problems just because they seem "smaller" (read here for more about that from a fellow blogger, Liz).  It just means that sometimes all we need is a little perspective.  I got that today.  My kids were waiting for me when I got home; they were smiling when I walked in the door.  I had a home to "come home" to.  I have money to buy my dinner tonight.  I have this computer.  I have friends.  I know where I'm going when I leave this earth.  I have hope.  The list goes on and on... molehills disappear.  Thank you, God!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Say What? : Language Blunders

Momma?  WHAT are you sayin'?

Learning a foreign language is quite a humbling experience.  Almost every day brings some new situation or word that you simply do not know how to communicate well.  Not knowing how to communicate is so humbling.  Especially for me.

I was thinking tonight about a few of my language blunders.  I have made so many more than these, but I am guessing that I have repressed those memories into the depths of my subconscious.  (BTW: did you know that for years I substituted the word subconscious for unconscious.  Say what? My friends had lots of laughs on the inside, I'm sure.  No body ever pointed it out till high school.  Sheesh.)

Blunders I have made while attempting to speak proper Thai:

The word for "spicy" and the formal word for "sex" are similar, but with very different tones.  More than once, I have called a food I was eating something truly inappropriate, or, at best, out of place.  Score - 1 for the weird white girl at the table.

I have substituted the word "cross" (as in, the cross Jesus died on), for "wooden pants."  That makes for a confusing message, don't ya think?

In the Thai Bible, sometimes the word Jesus uses for "we" (when He refers to the Trinity) is used in the place that I would expect to hear an "I" said instead.  So, I mistakenly thought that I could interchangeably use the Thai word for "we" whenever I wanted to refer to myself in a formal way.  No one corrected me for two months.  I would get odd stares, though.  Finally, my language teacher told me that I was saying it incorrectly. I know now that the odd stares I got were for my schizophrenic-sounding blunder.  Great.

Instead of telling kids to come, I have called them dogs.  The joys of a tonal language.

The words for "faith" and "evil" are sooo similar that I couldn't keep them straight for a while.  When admonishing others to trust in God, I was, instead telling them to have evil in their hearts instead.  Yikes.  Now I, painstakingly have to pronounce these rightly and still have to correct myself sometimes.  Grace, grace.

Once, while dining at the home of an important Thai couple we were involved with, I thought my husband proclaiming to everyone else of how good of a cook I was.  I emphatically disagreed, saying that I wasn't, really!  Everyone at the table stopped eating and their eyes grew wide.  Then, my husband started to apologize to the hostess who had made dinner for us.  Apparently, he was complimenting her cooking, not mine...which meant I was openly disagreeing with him about her cooking being so good.  I am thankful she is a sweet, forgiving woman.

And, to this day, I still can't remember the difference between the word for "Basil" and for "bag."  I am glad that I can give the restaurant lady a little giggle every time I order Basil Chicken over rice.  Silly foreigner.

Have any funny language blunders stories?  I am learning that it is healthy not to take myself so seriously!  Feel free to share yours in the comments below:

Friday, February 17, 2012

Mom-isms Part Two

Well...ever since this post, I have been thinking of more "Mom-isms" that I repeat incessantly.  More than just the cliche, "you'll shoot your eye out!"...I observe that every family has their own little sayings not derived from Grandma's house or funny movies.  Here are some more of mine:

"Unless you are bleeding from the head, don't bother me until nap time is over."  This one is very helpful for my little boys.  When it is time for naps, they come up with every excuse possible ("I'm thirsty," "The noise outside is distracting me from sleep," "Mom, what are we doing after this???") come and interrupt my talk-time with Treavor or my highly-anticipated Internet break in the afternoon.  To give them some understanding as to what exactly constitutes as a viable excuse...I explain it graphic details.  Boys "get" it.  I wonder what I'll use for Kyla?  Ideas?

"Worship is not a contact sport."  Oh.  I wish I didn't have to use this one.  If you have ever led your kids in a worship session at your house, then you already know what I mean.  Jeshurun, with all sincerity, thinks that his latest Kung-Fu moves are like worship to God.  Maybe.  But I'm sure his brother doesn't want a kick to the gut while he dances to "It Is Well With My Soul."  Worship is NOT a contact sport.  

"Listen with your eyes, please."  This one is great for adults, too.  Unless I get eye-contact from my kids while I instruct them, rebuke them, give them directions, etc...I get no meaningful response.  When they look at me as well as listen, it seems to "stick" better.  I need to practice this, too.  Already, my 20-month old knows that when I answer "uh-huh...uh-huh..." with my eyes fixated on a book or a screen, that I am not actually listening.  Same goes for kids with a .2-second attention span.  Try it out today.

What are some more of yours?  I always need more for my arsenal.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Update On 2012 Resolutions...I Mean...Goals

Although my feelings change daily...His word never does. 

Are you still writing 2011 in your journal/calendar/school papers?  I am.  I crossed out two weeks of 2011's in my journal the other day.  Must be stuck in the past or something.  Or, incredibly forgetful. This week, a guy told me that his wife used to say, "with every child you birth, half of your brain goes out as well."  So, if that is true, I have 1/8th of my original brain left in tact.  That sounds about right...most days.

In looking back at the last month, and wanting to milk the accountability of my blog readers...I want to take a look at the goals I made at the beginning of this year and see what has been (or hasn't been) accomplished.

2012 Goals (condensed version) - click here for the whole post.

1(a): increase my exercise routine (walk around the neighborhood more), move from just "girl" push-ups to real ones, rock climb 2x/month.
  (b): plan more for the day each morning.
  (c): increase my morning routine (mainly time with Jesus) from one hour to two (by the end of Spring).
2.  Unplug from the Internet from 8am-after lunch on home school days.
3.  Unsubscribe from email lists that clog my inbox.
4.  Remember that I can't do it all! did I do?  Totally failure?  Total victory?  

Well...a little bit of both.

1(a) - I did increase my walking routine around the neighborhood...I added one extra time per week - and did it!  
And...I can FINALLY do one. real. push-up.  It took me a whole month of "girl" push-ups and "hands-elevated" push-ups to finally get to one traditional push-up. As I was writing this post, I did one...and then attempted the 2nd.  Guess what?  I fell flat on my face.  My husband witnessed it and laughed right along with me.  And, I did not even hit the rock climbing wall once.  Major fail.  Maybe this month?
(b) - I started writing only three things on my to-do list each day.  Only three.  Okay, sometimes I did more. But, for the most part...with advice from Inspired to Action...I kept it down to three so I could stay more focused throughout the day and not feel like a complete failure if I didn't complete my normal 20-point to-do list.  Seriously.  That's called setting yourself up for failure.
(c) - I am getting there concerning waking up earlier.  With a few exceptions, and not counting when I was sick with a bad cold (twice!), I have been waking up a little earlier each week.  I am now halfway to my goal (up 1.5 hrs before all the kids).  By April, I want to be up a full two hours before the kids are.  Hmmm...that might be helped if I learn to also get to bed earlier...

2 - On home school days (4/5 days a week), I have been "unplugged" on an avg. of 3 of those days.  Facebook and The Pioneer Woman are strangely addictive.  Surely I can give up my craving for the Internet for a measly 5 hours a day.  You would think that, wouldn't you?  Not yet to my goal of complete separation.  Working on it.  When I am weak, I have to remember that my kids (and their schooling) are so much better than an social networking/blogging fix.  

3 - I unsubscribed myself from EIGHTEEN different email newsletters.  Hello to a cleaner inbox!  Then, I did an "email sweep" to delete all of their email message cousins.  I think I am going to make this goal a regular thing.  Because, we all know that a woman living in Thailand probably shouldn't get all the Target weekly deals popping in her inbox to start a snowball of coveting happening in her heart.  Whoever that girl is.

4 - Here's where my post gets a little more vulnerable.  I tried to start the year with "remembering that I simply can't do it all."  That lasted for a few weeks, and then amnesia set in.  A few weeks ago, a huge cloud of discouragement wafted over my head and heart, and I felt like a complete failure at life.  I said to my husband, who had encouraged me that I was not a failure, "If I am doing so well, why do I feel like I am failing?"  Since then, I have had some wonderful conversations with the Holy Spirit, and some tearful worship times and bible studies (click here for the free one I am doing now!).  God is encouraging me, uprooting lies, replacing truth, giving me great feedback and direction...and I am super blessed.  Also, I have been reading this book, Grace For The Good Girl.  I highly recommend it.  It is a unique story, but it is for everyone to relate with.

How about your goals?  Have you kicked 'em to the curb yet?  Stayed strong?  Or, somewhere in-between?  Feel free to share below.  I love honesty.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Homeschooling On The Road

Math on the go

Our life, our routine, our plans, our always changing.  I put my plans on the calendar in hopes that "important things" might one day get accomplished.  As if writing things in pencil makes them set in stone.  Right.

My scheduling goals for school this year including these: 
- getting a school week done week (as opposed to stretching it out over several in the name of being "laid-back")
- doing most of our homeschooling (over furlough in the States) in the car 
- and then finishing first grade (for Run) and pre-school (for Huy) before their birthdays this fall.  

I think I can...

I think I can...

I think I can...

(name that children's book!)

So.  To stay on track and begin trial-runs for goal #2, we had home school in the car today.  As expats who have to answer to the Thai government every now and then...we are required to travel to the border every 3 months to officially leave the country and then return again to keep our visas alive and legal.  Today, we traveled about 4 hours (one way) to the Burma/Thai border for our visa "run."  Instead of getting frustrated by another hitch to my schooling plans, I modified our school day to happen on the road.

We did our bible story (waiting in the car) while Dad bought breakfast at 7-eleven.  I love raisin bread and Dole apples from a bag.  What can I say?

We prayed at the end of our story, broke for, well... "breakfast" and and after the last bit was eaten, we started bible verse memorization.  Huy and Run both memorize news verses each week.  If you don't count my kids verses, I do not even memorize a verse a week.  Looks like Mommy needs to catch up and get with the program.

After that, I handed out crayons, pencils and workbooks and began Math.  Huy worked on finding shapes, Run did his Horizon's workbook and his addition flash cards, Kyla scribbled on copy paper stuck to her new clipboard.  Clipboards are a mommy's best friend.  Did you not know this?  It's a fact.

Now, because I get wicked car sickness if I read a lot while travelling, Treavor and I switched roles and he read aloud to the kids.  You gotta love a man who can read Mother Goose Rhymes and folk tales without grimacing.  He was a trooper.

After a break for our border run, and a long nap-time, Run finished his school day with a spelling test.  I handed him some note cards written with his spelling words for the week and he studied a bit before doing his test on a Magna Doodle.  

Overall, it was a successful day!  Hey, we're not teaching Trigonometry yet, so I think doing what I can teaching from the front seat instead of the usual couch seat is totally do-able.  

What do you do to maximize your travel time?  Have any tips for encouraging on-the-go learning?  

Thursday, February 2, 2012

10 Things I Like Today

I wish my blog had a scratch-n-sniff app.

(BTW: this post contains several references to food, so if you happen to be fasting right might want to read Google news or something else!)

1.  Finally, a cooking day.  I have actually missed it!  Lately, for the most part, I don't cook much after an making easy breakfast (eggs, cereal, yogurt, etc.) each day.  The infamous Mrs. Busy has come to visit my house regularly over the past few months and she leaves little time me to cook.  We usually opt out for $1-$1.50/plate takeout Thai food instead.  It works.  And, I rarely shop.  Unless 7-11 counts as shopping.  Hey, we're true Asians.  Does that count as acculturation?  If you have no idea what I'm talking about, maybe you've never been to our hemisphere.  I am officially counting regular shopping trips to 7-11 as acculturation.  There.  Absolved.

2.  The smell of the first batch of pesto I have ever made at home (recipe here).  I toasted pine nuts (from a care package), grated Parmesan cheese, picked fistfuls of basil from my plants outside, cracked peppercorns, tossed sea salt, peeled garlic, and blended it all with my precious olive oil till I about had a heart attack.  The multiple, intoxicating smells wafting from the Kingdom of Heaven must include fresh pesto.  It simply must.  And cinnamon rolls.  And, the smell of a baby's itty-bitty head.  

3.  R2-D2, my bread machine (as it has been so lovingly called by Steph).  I made a batch of honey whole wheat bread to eat with the basil pesto and just about ate half the loaf once it cooled.  See the picture above for my record-high (for me!) loaf.  I love carbs.

4.  A day without a complete melt-down.  From the kids.  Or, me.

5.  A husband who takes our oldest son out to play soccer and share the Gospel.  At the same time.  It is possible, you know!  They have started going out more to intentionally share together.  It is fun to see him starting to take steps in his father's footsteps.  One day, he will be running ahead of us and we will be in awe of how he has surpassed us in Jesus' ways.  Hallelu.

6.  The Hello Mornings Challenge.  Every morning when I am tempted to press the snooze on my alarm, I think of my accountability partners that are helping me get up even earlier than I have been.  It hasn't been easy, with two bad colds this month...but I am still working towards my resolutions for making my morning something to get more excited about. 

7.  Finding little Tiramisu cups made fresh at a bakery down the street.  What??? They're awesome and they only cost 90 cents.  

8.  Clean comedians on YouTube.  Like this guy:

9.  This new worship album from World Mandate 2011.  My kids and I have been singing it, humming it, and flubbing the words to it all day.  We're obviously out of touch with new music.  We are thankful for the new songs and are greatly encouraged.

10.  The mound of dishes waiting for me in the sink.  (See #1 - #3)  I am blessed to have a full tummy.  Millions are going hungry tonight.  I hope that I can look at my dishes every day and see what they've brought me in the form of nourishment instead of groaning and complaining when I see the work that's undone.  Thank you, God.

What do you like today?  I'd love to hear!  Leave your comment below if you can spare the minute!  
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