Northern Irish Images

30 November 2008

It just occurred to me that I should post a few pictures of our time @ Giant's Causeway (the children survived without us, by the way, with just the one black eye).

Tomorrow, a reprieve

22 November 2008

I cannot remember the last time the husband and I were alone for more than 3 hours at a time. I know it was at least 6 months ago, far away from here, in another life. It's more than fair to say that since we have arrived in Ireland, I have been somewhat hesitant to leave my children for long periods of time. Not that we've had many chances to do that (or have conquered that elusive quest to find a child minder (aka babysitter)). But still, the need for uninterrupted togetherness that consists of long conversations and carefreeness, minus nappy changes and demands for sweets, remains.

So tomorrow we are taking full advantage of having a Grandma around (sadly, she departs the day before our first Thanksgiving in a new land) and making her mind her adorably rambunctious grandchildren for 36 hours. We will be heading to the North to partake in some shopping (Ikea) and some sightseeing (Giant's Causeway), and perhaps an American indulgence (the brand-spankin' new Chili's in Belfast).

I'm only slightly nervous about leaving my mom with the kids for a couple of days, but have left notes and suggestions and frozen pizzas to make the task a little easier on her. I will also be secretly suggesting to a few friends that they stop by for a quick chat, just in case...

A year ago

17 November 2008


Ella says "dance" and "thanks".
She signs "more" only if absolutely necessary.
She puckers her lips when happy and tears at her clothes and hair when mad.
She cuddles more than before, especially after exposing bare bellies - hers and mine.

Jackson writes his name - all the time - every day.
He draws, too - LarryBoy and pumpkins.
He quotes lines from commercials and points with his middle finger: "Your world, delivered."
He prays and talks to God and he says God talks to him, too.

Matt is in Ireland, pursuing a dream, answering a call.
I think he will find Christ there, leading him.
I pray for his heart to endure the waiting.
Strength to overcome the fear.
Wisdom to replace all questions.
More like Christ now, to serve Him better later.
To introduce who He is to the doubtful and proud, we must be more like Him -
chase His holiness.

I am in Kansas. Finally learning a thing or two.


written 11 November 2007

An Itty Bitty Victory, of sorts

03 November 2008

After the super, duper, heavy post, I thought I would write about a bit of a triumph I experienced yesterday.

Some of you may know that our eldest, the 5 year old boy, had a rough start to life in Ireland. Culturally and socially, he just did not fit in, and we were really not at all prepared for how hard this would be on our typically easy going child.

The week after we moved into our house, he had a bit of a run-in with some neighbour children, which commenced in an awkward/angry encounter with their mother and a plea to keep our children separated from now on. Jackson wasn't too phased by this situation (as he had already picked out his BFF who was our next door neighbour boy, and they continue to remain best buds). However, I was devastated at my first big, public failure as cross-cultural worker/server/reacher-outer. Ugh. It just cast a pall over me. I questioned my responses to the situation (which coulda been better, seeing that I'm kinda a mama bear), questioned why we were here, thought Jack would never make friends and figured we'd have to move out of our housing estate hanging our heads.

Cut to 4 months later. A birthday for our girl. And one of the children in this family happens over for some cake and a little bit of friendship. The next weekend, a birthday present appears for Ella from this family. Then yesterday, a doorbell and two children at our door asking Jackson back over to their house (for the first time in 5 months), where he's treated to a birthday party for the youngest, cartoons, cake, sweets, and a goody bag.

As I walked back home after depositing him at the party, my smile grew with each step. I sighed a long, deep breath of relief. It took awhile, of course, but the space and time (and smiles in the school yard and the occasional drive-by wave) seemed to create an opening of possibilities.

So today, the middle child stopped by again, for a play-date. Jack proudly showed her around the house introducing her to "Alison" (Granny) and "Karen" (Mommy) and Ella who followed her around the house yelling, "HUG!" The new child was slightly confused and I thought, eventually, she'll get used to this.

Free to be you and me

01 November 2008

Lately I've been feeling like I'm losing pieces of myself.

This has been a hard week. Really, a hard month. I distinctly remember talking to a coworker/friend (more friend, than coworker) exactly one month ago and her saying, "I think you're doing great. Do you think you're doing great?" And I replied, "I think I'm on the verge of doing not-so-great."

I wrote a post awhile back about my own self-censorship. This is almost an entirely new arena for me, who so easily and happily sticks foot in month and tongue in cheek. Lately, I've been wrestling with a lot of stuff internally (in my brain, and stuff)... things which have been brewing for a long time, that I've really only shared with the husband, the sister, and occasionally with the quasi-anarchist cousin.  Now I find myself at the point where I feel an overwhelming need to express such thoughts/ideas/opinions/questions. I also find myself at a point in time where I can't share these things publicly without repercussions (even on my own, non-ministry blog, there are consequences).

Now don't get all riled up thinking the worst (Mom). Nothing fundamentally has changed inside this brain/heart (my salvation, I'm sure, remains intact). But really, the ideas are more practical in nature, more... holistic? More of an independent experiment? I'm not really sure what I'm trying to say... it's hard having to be so cryptic.

Here's the thing: I willingly signed on for this theoretical spotlight on my life. We talked a lot in prefield training about giving up our rights. Life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness (along with other unnamed and not nearly as important "rights") should be... maybe... if we can... checked at the feet of Christ if we are to be His ambassadors. Ok, sure, I can do that. No prob.

Except... I'm wondering if one of my rights that I'm expected to give up is the right to be who I fundamentally am. I guess - it could be argued - I'm just expected to give up the old, less spiritually mature me, happily assume the role of the new psuedo-Pauline me, if it lurks in there somewhere. You know, the old man/new man thing. To me, it seems I'm not only becoming the quieter, meeker Me, but also Me minus thoughts & opinions, creative license & passion. Quickly turning into the shamed Me (yes, I have felt an increasing amount of shame as the old me parts ways with the new me). Or the Me who cries a lot. 

[ick, I'm just noticing how many times I say me, me, me... perhaps that's just as telling...]

This is not necessarily a reflection of life overseas. On the contrary, my new friends here seem to really want me to be me. Rather, it may very well be just a reflection of my own self-imposed restrictions for fear of rejection and failure. Or it could be an overreaction to the awareness that I am no longer my own person. Apart from belonging to Christ (which I willingly submitted to long ago), I now belong to one country, four churches, 176 individuals/families (who I also willingly submitted to), and I speak/act on behalf of all of their opinions/desires/beliefs/politics.

In conclusion, call this Pity Party 2.0. Commence consequences.

[This is why I have my own blog and why I write. Because there ARE thoughts that must be expressed, and if they aren't, I will fade away.]