Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I'm Grateful

First of all, thanks to Debbie Peck for the fun recipes and resources for Thanksgiving. What a fun encouragement that was. I’m assuming all of us are receiving the WOTH onlineMagazine and the subsequent email from the Editor, “In Between the Lines,” in which it appears. If not, click here.
Now to balance my more negative posts about head lice, car-sickness, and things we don’t take for granted, I want to give some serious thought to the many benefits of living exactly where we do. Your list will not necessarily look like mine, but I offer these to inspire your own. Please add yours in the comment section.

Here is a partial list I made for Thanksgiving (in random order).
I love the simplicity of life here. No junk mail, no telemarketers, and in fact, few phone calls in general. I enjoy the quality and quantity of family time without so many outside distractions. No sports practices or youth events requiring me to be a chauffeur. Cheap reliable public transportation means the kids can get around independently, even to school in the city three times a week.

Living close to our friends means even the youngest can walk back and forth to each other’s houses during daylight. After some upheaval earlier in the year, I am extremely thankful for no further incidents in our town, and that our kids are safe in their comings and goings.

One thing that remains on my list every year is my house. Being settled in my own home for almost 17 years is a tremendous blessing. I love that it is climate- controlled simply by opening and closing windows and drapes. Being adobe, it maintains the warmth or coolness without air-conditioning or heating.

Of course a huge bonus of living where we do is that it provides a meaningful purpose in life. The ministry opportunities alone are a tremendous blessing that short-term teams only glimpse. Even with the challenges and difficulties, we receive intangible benefits. Does that sound weird to say I am thankful for the very problems that cause me to grow more like Jesus?

After that horrible bout with E-coli, I am thankful for good health, which I do not take for granted. I am thankful to see the scales finally inching their way down after ten years of gradually going up. I’m thankful for affordable fresh fruits and vegetables available year-round.

As always, I am grateful for my family and friends, and for modern technology that helps us stay in touch. I love my family, and I thank the Lord daily that my children are all walking with the Lord, knowing so many heart-broken mothers who pray for this daily. I love the fact that we all still want to be together, even though we can’t.

And lastly, I adore each and every one of my very odd diverse friends, both near and far away. I’m thankful for my e-maginary friends on the Sonlight forums, and for my new WOTH friends (you!).

IRL*Gratitude is the gift I give to you.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Nit-picking. What mental image does that conjure up? A persnickety mother nagging at her children for a job done not quite well enough? If so, I salute you! More than likely many of you see an instant play-back of a scene you never want to repeat.

Let’s talk about head lice. Makes you scratch just remembering it, doesn’t it? Sorry, but with Thanksgiving coming up, I find myself thanking the Lord for a year free from head lice. How many of you can join me in saying “Glory Hallelujah!”?

For those of you not similarly blessed in 2010, my sympathies go out to you. All I can say is that I’ve been there, done that, and DON’T want the t-shirt OR a photo. No one in my family would have dared take a picture of me looking like a Smurf with a trash bag covering my mayonnaise-slathered head.

Another memory forever stamped on my brain is of sitting with my daughter for hours at a stretch, inspecting her hair strand by strand, then tapping the comb on a white piece of paper. It was revolting to see the number of teeny lice and egg sacks that dropped from the comb, but I must admit there was something weirdly gratifying about hearing that little click when I crushed each live egg with the surface of my thumbnail.

Two vital items for every missionary’s first aid kit are tea tree oil and a good metal nit comb. Not to be superstitious or anything, but in my experience it’s like carrying an umbrella to ensure it won’t rain. Leave it at home, and you’ll wish you had it. We haven’t had a single outbreak since I bought mine.

A couple of years ago, we were (scratch, scratch) on the verge of leaving for a summer furlough when I discovered a lice infestation on my own head and my daughter’s, too. I was absolutely desperate to get rid of the little buggers to avoid sharing them with unsuspecting supporters and hosts in the U.S. There’s nothing funny about spreading head lice to friends from Texas to Ohio.

Consequently I tried every antidote known to man, first starting with the lice shampoo sold at the local pharmacy, proceeding to attempt every home remedy on the internet (to no avail), and finally resorting to something my local friends guaranteed would work. We sprayed Raid in a glass, mixed it with oil, and then slimed that on our heads until every louse and egg was dead.

It worked all right, but getting those toxins out of my system was a long expensive process. I don’t recommend it, not even to prevent head lice at the in-laws’ house. Go for tea tree oil instead.

So, what are you thankful for this year?

IRL* Itching to see the response to the “louse-iest” post I’ve ever written.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Cinnamon and Sandwiches

Another true confession.

I used to try to manipulate my kids' memories of their mother by purposely doing amazing things that I was sure would win me a place in the Missionary Mom Hall of Fame. Things I could imagine my children remembering fondly after I die. Things to place me on a pedestal right up there with Edith Shaeffer, Mrs. "Art of Homemaking" herself.

One of these fabulous feats was to start every long road trip with fresh homemade cinnamon rolls. Yes, just for the sake of future glory, I began a tradition of making a big batch of cinnamon rolls the night before we would leave for a journey to the States (see sidebar for recipe). I would put them in the fridge to rise overnight, and then first thing in the morning, I would pop them in the oven to bake while Jim finished loading the car.

Then the children would experience the indescribable blessing of waking to the amazing aroma of cinnamon rolls, which would soon permeate the car as we piled in and prepared for breakfast on the road. What a wonderfully devoted mother I was, right?

Ah, it's a fond memory to me even now. I love cinnamon rolls!

Unfortunately, my kids don't see it that way. What they remember (besides the long grueling 20-plus hours in the car before reaching Texas) is regurgitating those lovely cinnamon rolls on the first stretch of barfy, curvy highway. One child in particular still cannot stand cinnamon rolls because of that negative association. Walking through a mall and smelling Cinnabon does not stir up fond memories for her, but evokes a gagging sensation instead.

Even worse, this same child cannot stand sandwiches for the same reason. Living in Mexico, we seldom eat sandwiches for a quick easy meal. Instead we tend to eat beans and rice, quesadillas, nachos, or leftovers. (Okay, and even cereal when Dad's away.) But seldom sandwiches unless they are tortas (hot submarine-type sandwich made on a bolillo--like a French roll--with smashed beans, avocado, Oaxaca cheese, tomato, jalapeno, and sometimes a slice of lunch meat or scrambled eggs with chorizo - yum!).

On a long car trip, I would make tuna or egg salad, and simply make the sandwiches as we needed them, so we wouldn't waste any uneaten sandwiches. I would also take along a few peanut butter sandwiches for the first day on the road. That's the only time they remember eating sandwiches, and the memory grosses them out.

Great. Now I have children who hate not only cinnamon rolls, but sandwiches, too.

IRL*So much for manipulating memories...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Tie that Binds

When I grow up I want to be just like … Quick, who just came to mind? Isn’t it funny that no matter how old we get, we (hopefully) always have friends a step ahead of us whom we admire, women we would love to follow as they are obviously following Jesus?

These past few weeks I have had the rare treat of having one such woman here in town, close by, to enjoy and to learn from. I first met Ann and her husband 22 years ago this very month, when they attended a conference in Guatemala. Back then I was a young mother with a baby and a toddler, expecting my third. Bob and Ann loved on me and encouraged me in a tangible way that I’ll never forget.

I’ve only seen these dear friends a total of five times in all the years following that divine appointment, but they left an indelible mark on my life. They soon left the pastorate to join a group called Barnabas International, which, like Women of the Harvest, is all about encouraging missionaries on the field. It is a perfect fit for the gifts and abilities of this precious couple. Maybe some of you even know them. I wouldn’t be surprised.

Ann first taught me about hospitality when we visited them in Texas on one of our long journeys from Guatemala to Ohio. I can still picture how she took me in her kitchen and swung wide every cabinet and pantry, showing me the contents. If there was anything we needed or wanted, we could help ourselves. It was the most welcoming home I have ever visited.

Another time Bob and Ann made a special quick trip all the way to Oaxaca simply because they read between the lines in a personal letter I had written them, and they knew I was in desperate need of encouragement. I will never forget their sacrifice that provided a healing balm for my weary soul. Our hearts are bonded permanently simply because of their love and care.

Last Saturday I had the privilege again of walking to our local market to help Ann buy fresh produce. It wasn’t a big deal, but it was a privilege just to spend time with such a woman of God. I am smiling just typing this up. It sounds almost silly to say how much I admire and adore this dear friend.

A few months back, I think some people misunderstood a comment a reader left on this blog admitting she had a “crush” on me. I was not in the least confused by her remark. I know exactly what she meant. I was, however, honored, assuming she meant the same kind of affection I have for my friend Ann.

IRL* Hoping to pave the way for other weary women just like Ann has for me.


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