Recovery in centimeter-sized bites

29 April 2012

I am currently doing a whole lot of nothing. Well, apart from lying in bed, reading, watching movies, lying in bed some more, taking meds, trying not to think about food, and... well... lying in bed. Having my wisdom teeth removed was actually quick and painless, but the recovery is long and bumpy and painful.

a total of three, but this impacted one was the "doozy"

All in all, the family is surviving nicely. Husband has had a slow couple of days, so everyone is fed and clean and relatively happy. We are having long quiet times here, where we each occupy a corner of the apartment, playing with legos or reading books or catching up on The Daily Show. The lights are off and today it gently rains and if it weren't for the ubiquitous ache in my jaw, I'd be quite pleased.

But instead I'm sore and tired and have got the dry mouth and miss food. Have I mentioned food? I miss it! All the chewing and the eating. Oh, how I miss it. It turns out the whole experience of food eating isn't just about how it tastes on your tongue. My tastebuds are still intact and the pizza I "ate" today was good. But without the ability to chew and crunch and use those fine molars, eating is slow and exhausting and not very fun. Within a few centimeter-sized bites, I'm ready to give up.

Diet Coke tastes the same and ibuprofen is my friend. The sweatshirt I've been wearing for two days might smell just a little bit. My face is hideous and I'm thankful for long frizzy hair to hide the massive, bruised goiter that juts out to the left (is that how goiter is spelled? I've never had to use it before). I look disturbingly like the Wii Mii the boy created for me some two years and 40 pounds ago.

shot_1335566272669.jpgMy bed and I are BFFs, and as I try to find a comfy way to sleep with my fat face and sore teeth, I thank the man who put that pallet headboard together. I may look weird, feel gross and tired, am starving and strung out on hydrocodone, but that pallet headboard says I am loved and at home. And the plethora of stuffed animals tucked in around me say my children want me better. And the toddler asleep on my chest says there is no better time than right now for a long cuddle.

Ok, so it's not so bad.

The only memory

27 April 2012

The first thing I did was cry for a baby that never lived.

I got my wisdom teeth out today. Three troublesome teeth, one of which was so severely impacted and quite abnormally large (at least in my tiny, should've-had-braces mouth) that the nurse said, "Wow, that's a doozy!" and the oral surgeon replied, "I'm going to strongly suggest we sedate you." They put a blood pressure cuff on each arm, asked me questions about my children. With each answer, what I really wanted to say was, "I'm a bit frightened." But before I could form the words my mind kept repeating, my eyes opened in a low-lit room and I felt a hand squeeze mine, "Hey."

And I cried.

This is the only memory I have of that baby, at least a memory that can be repeated. Waking up from anesthesia to husband's hand and word in a somber room, confused and scared and my mouth feels horrible and wow that was fast and where exactly am I? It is the same as it was, six years in between. Back then it took the fuzziness fading to remember why I had surgery and what had been lost.

"This feels like the baby," I said to him today, speaking the very first thought in my fuzzy head, without knowing I would.

I cried a bit, and then faded back to sleep.


A Tail of an Irish Wolfhound

23 April 2012

Our girl is obsessed with many things: arm bands, zebras, lego guys, and super heroes, just to name a few. As part of her ever increasing desire to be part animal, she's taken to wearing white tights, white shirt, zebra hat and a sock for a tail. And as her love for the Irish wolfhound has grown, my next Repurposing Discarded Treasures project literally dropped in my lap:


Ok, so it's a zebra tail. Whatever.

So we've had this bar laying around from an old infant/toddler seat/rocking chair. I think we gave away the actual seat ages ago, but the bar hung on and was used for things like makeshift light sabers, or swords, or eating utensils. One too many poke-in-the-eyes later, I was just one step away from dropping it in the garbage when the husband had a brilliant idea: "For your next project," he says, "A tail for E!"


Now, make sure you copy and paste what we did here. The directions are pretty hard to follow:
1) cut the bar in half, 2) take the foam insides out, 3) cut off the velcro tabs, and 4) tuck one of the tails into child's tights (or if your child prefers actual clothing - shorts, trousers or skirt).

And there you have it: a Human Irish Wolfhound with a nice zebra tail (and an extra to spare)!

Can you see the resemblance?

Fierce! (I think she thinks it's more wolf than dog...)


Your very own Irish Wolfhound-slash-Zebra-hybrid will be so happy, if slightly confused about her identity.

repurposing discarded treasures

There's a match struck

17 April 2012

My initial inclination with every post is to start that first sentence with "Hiding in the..." It's true: I'm hiding when I'm writing. There's a match struck and I'm off to the bedroom/office/toolshed before the fire burns out.

She's outside playing with older neighbour girls, and the sad truth is I don't even know their names. I don't think I've ever even seen their parents and all I know is they run up and down the sidewalk, from one apartment to the next, carrying reese's pieces and fingernail polish remover. The three huddle together on top of a picnic table and they all jump, hands hidden behind backs, when I call out to her for dinner. This bugs me a bit, and as she walks in the door, I ask what every mother wants to know at any given moment, every time her child walks through the door.

"What were you talking about?"

And as soon as my tongue hits the t, her big brown eyes form puddles of tears, and my heart sinks into the place she grew for nine months.

A half-hour's worth of crying and pleading hits its peek when she cries, "I'm afraid to tell you because you won't want me in your family anymore." This is when you know you've crossed a parenting threshold, the one you know will come soon enough, but you're always surprised when it does. You think to yourself, she's only five!, and it's too soon for her to know shame.

So the truth comes out and it's not super great, but it's not worst case scenario, either. You explain to her about value and violence, about privacy and respect, about her body and theirs. You hate to even bring up strange words bearing heavy weight, but it's too late now and if you don't define them, they will. And you tell her that secrets lie. You explain what it means when a friend, or a stranger, or an adult tells her not to tell. And you know it could be so much worse... but really, it feels like the door has been opened and you can't keep her from walking beyond its shallow frame.

These children, I've never seen their parents, but I wonder if I have to love thy neighbour as my child. Loving thy neighbour as myself seems like nothing in comparison.


On making excuses and not showing up

16 April 2012

It's an easy excuse I use too often.
"Sorry, I can't, I've got the kids."
"Oh, that sounds great, but it's a little too close to naptime."
"I'd love to, really, but, well, you know how toddlers are."
Life with the wee three is tailor-made for excuses of all kinds. They're loud and they're fast and they all run in different directions. They distract and disrupt and yell. Did I mention the biting? Or the falling and the crying? And I'm a mess. A real, human frazzled-and-frizzy-haired-mom-of-a-mess. I yell and cry, too. I chase them, and sigh, and want to hide. I'm embarrassed and exhausted.

These are my reasonings - my very adequate and totally understandable reasonings - for holding back, not showing up, missing out. I'm doing you a favor, I think. Truly, you wouldn't want us there.

Except... that's no way to live. And it's no way to teach your kids how to live. Or to serve. It's no way to be family within community. And it's really no way to grow or to learn or to love. 

And those are all the reasons why I said yes to today. Me and my kids are going to show up. We are going to be loud and we are going to be messy. We are going to go meet some other kiddos who are oh-so-far away from home. My kids are gonna love the heck out of them, for no other reason than they are kids, too, and they know what it's like to be away from home. We are going to craft it up good, even though we are not crafty and even though the wee lad will be running and throwing and probably eating said crafts.

It's too easy to say no, but it's oh so hard to train them in the way they should go if you don't show up at all. We may as well just all go together, before they start making excuses, too.

So, who else has a mess - or just plain old life and family and biting toddlers - they're afraid to show up with?

Diets, politics, and homeschooling (oh my!)

14 April 2012


Found myself back to being a curious bystander to a lot of blogs and articles this week. Here's a round-up:

Simple Mom : Is your "healthy" diet making you sick, tired or fat?

Note: the girl and I suffer from eczema big time (and she seems to have several food intolerances). we're too cheap to do allergy testing, so I've recently started eliminating some suspicious foods, as Camille prescribes... but I'm afraid of cutting out dairy, cuz, you know, i need it!

Her.Meneutics : Why we can all opt out of the "war on women"
Frankly, I’m tired of both sides using violent imagery to describe the difficult decisions that I, and my sisters, make every day, and I’m tired of seeing those decisions reduced to bumper sticker ideologies that can be exploited for political gain.
My initial reaction to the nudging I sensed in my heart—that God wanted us to give homeschooling a fair evaluation—was unequivocal: "No way, God." But the more I struggled against it, the more I sensed his answer: "Just look into it."
A Deeper Story : Stupid wait time
Tears began to stream down my face as the pastor continue to speak about how it takes only a momentfor God to speak His promise and it takes only a moment for the promise to be fulfilled, but the time that passes in between those two moments – the reversal time – is time immeasurable. It’s always the longest. Agonizing, hand-wringing, soul-stripping waiting.
Matthew Paul Turner : I'm tired of... God?
Tired of being pigeonholed or labeled or categorized or limited because my conversations about God aren’t the same as other people’s conversations about God…
These last two posts hit me deep in my uncomfortable heart. Anything do that for you this week?

Amber and honey

12 April 2012


I hesitate to write it down, afraid to betray it.

It is her hair that draws me in. Long strands of ribbon, layered in amber and honey along mother's shoulder. She is nestled in tight, asleep to the world, cocooned in warmth and song. Pink toes peek out from behind the chair - bare feet on a hot day - and her skin is so golden I must stop myself from reaching out to feel it's warmth.

As people stand to sing and pray, father takes his turn and mother stands, too. A tall man, he curves his body around hers, slowly, barely, swaying with eyes closed.

Music has quieted and the people reclaim their seats. The girl sleeps in her summer dress, while mother connects syringe to tube, gently feeding. She does not wake when father gives her back to the place she fits best, hidden in mother's womb.

This girl - baby - not yet two, the recipient of the deepest love I have ever seen.

Taking it in, I feel crude and crass. I am an intruder stealing secrets. I yelled this morning, replacing tenderness with nettles. I am ashamed.

But then it washes over me. Mercy rains down in gentle ribbons of amber and honey. It's that feeling when they place that tiny human in your arms, when you are gifted with something invaluable, incalculable. When you know you you're not worthy, and yet it's meant for you.

I take in the moment, so overwhelmed with honour He chose me to witness it. I think I love her, too.

Palm Sunday.

Figuring Out Equally Shared Parenting : Because we mess up

10 April 2012

Ok, so we've done the roles thing, done the parenting thing, but here's where the rubber hits the road: how do we try, fail, and keep at it? What is essential, and what's not?


Making a go of it long term

For us, three keys go into making this work:

1) Flexibility : our schedule is different every week, if not every day, so we continue to try to embrace the differences and the difficulties. We make plans on the fly, so some days are busier while others see more downtime. For instance, today's schedule:
  • Matt leaves at 6am for prayer meeting.
  • I take kids to school at 8:30 am.
  • Matt's home at 9am so he takes the wee lad for errands and playground.
  • I head out the door at 9:30am to write.
  • I'm home by 12:30pm so Matt can head to a friend's cafe for lunch, reading and paperwork.
  • He'll pick up the kids on his way home while I make dinner.
  • Tonight I'll be on kid duty while he makes calls, sets up appointments, and writes letters.
Tomorrow will be totally different, so we make daily adjustments and go with it. And when things get tough and we have to take on more, we do.


Flexibility also means having to reassess, frequently. A couple months ago we realized we were struggling to make ends meet. We live off a stipend of our usual overseas salary, so we try to keep it bare bones so that it's there when we we're ready to go. We knew returning to Ireland was our future, so getting full-time "real" jobs and no longer raising support wasn't an option. But we needed additional income. Last time, I did temp work over the holidays. This time it's Matt taking on more, working seasonally in a lawn & garden department.

Working alongside eachother in equally shared parenting means that we have equal say and responsibility in how this is all going to work. And it means when something's gotta give, we give. And we try to give graciously, knowing that this season isn't forever, and soon enough we'll be changing it up again, which leads me to...

2) Grace : The daily adjustments and "going with it" means we have to apply liberal amounts of grace. There are times when it gets a little tense and tiring and frustrating to not know what is next. Our work and family go hand-in-hand, so when we do sacrifice something (him doing more woodworking, or me having alone time to write, or putting off a needed purchase), we try to remember it's for a greater good.


I'm learning more and more that being a grace-giver in our life and ministry means doing the same for my spouse and my kids. We are in this together, fighting it out together, and working towards finding an intentionally holistic place to be a family on mission together. Especially since we are prone to...

3) Messing up : Matt likes to quote a professor of his who said something to the effect of "You don't have to be the perfect parent, you just have to be good enough." I'm not entirely sure that's an accurate quote or entirely true, but we are so imperfect at this. Some days we over-schedule and are in need of a literally-last-minute sitter (last Monday, for instance), on other days one of us is late for the pick-up routine. And some days, well, I just don't want to do any of it. I think: I want to be normal! And then we complain, and then we fight, and then... we remember.

We remember that handy Family Purpose Statement we did last year, we remember and dream about our work overseas, we remember this all goes so fast. So we broker a peace agreement, shake hands, wipe tears and try again.


In conclusion, a mild disclaimer: I know this approach isn't best for everyone, nor is it possible for everyone. Many of my best friends are the full-time mothers/homemakers in awesome families, while others have or want to work out of the home, and some may find themselves doing all of it alone. I'm not even sure if we'll always be able to parent or live this way.

I think for us, because of the path we find ourselves on, this is the way we've been led to grow and move. I hope it's not a discouragement to you, but rather an impetus to see there is more than one perfect way to be a great mom, dad, wife, husband, friend, partner or caretaker. In whatever season or situation you find yourself, I believe there is a best way made just for you, and as we've prayed to discover that way for us, I pray you will discover it, too.


So, questions? Concerns? Advice? Have you found your own "best way?" Bueller?

thoughts on the One who loves a sinner anyway

06 April 2012


Sometimes I think about the woman caught in adultery, and I wonder, how did they know?

Did she stumble out of the house, or the inn, or the brothel half-naked? Were they listening in, ears to the wall? Was there a stolen sheet, or a misplaced note, or a wandering eye? Did he betray her in the end, after the love was all used up?

And then I think about Jesus, who knows it all. Who knew everything another woman ever did. Who looked her straight in the face knowing and seeing that she had lover after lover after lover. He looked in her eyes, and said, "It's me. I'm the One your soul thirsts for. I'm the One you've been looking and waiting for, never finding, until today."

He saw it all, and loved her and wanted her anyway. And when He came upon the woman caught in adultery, presumably He had seen and known it all, too. Knowing she had cheated on her first love, had lied, was unclean. But still it was the accusers He did away with, called out, questioned. For He saw them as they were, too.

"The sinless one among you, go first: Throw the stone."

He's seen it all. And still wants us anyway. Jesus knows us and still loves us enough to say, "I'm it. I'm all you need...

Now stop it and be with Me."

{ok, so it's a paraphrase, but whatever}


I want to love Him better, but the sacrifice and the seeing it all shakes my sinful core. How do you love Him on Good Friday?

Figuring Out Equally Shared Parenting : Real men pre-soak cloth nappies

03 April 2012

So now you know our big secret, that we kind of* subscribe to an Equally Shared Parenting method of life, work and family. Last time I talked about how we aren't so big on traditional gender roles (though I've recently taken on more cooking responsibilities, which has resulted in, shall we say, a minor existential crisis), but today I want to talk about how we parent the brilliant little people.

*I say "kind of" because we're still learning and growing and I'm not meaning this as a specific endorsement of ESP

IRE-4 123

Real men pre-soak cloth nappies

When our second child was 6 months old, Matt resigned his job to raise support full-time and I began a part-time job till we left for the field. This meant Matt was (mostly) home full-time, I was away from home part-time, and we began to experiment with equally sharing parenting duties. For instance, when I was at work, Matt fed the baby and took Jack to preschool. When Matt made calls or had meetings, those duties became mine.

b is for bedtime story

Starting back then and throughout our time in Ireland until now, we've been living, working and parenting this way. There are sacrifices, obviously, as we didn't go into church work for the money and knew our lifestyle might look, again, weird. But the benefits outweigh the weirdness.

Because we were based at home while both working flexible, complementary schedules outside of the home, we both could be at Christmas plays, trade off school parties, and take turns getting up in the night. We shared the child-caring, disciplining, cooking, cleaning, and carpooling. There are times when we spend equal amounts of time alone with the kiddos, but also times when he is gone for a full week and it's just me. One other fantastic perk: we almost never have to take all three grocery shopping! That alone is worth the sacrifice!


Like I said before, today it looks different than it did this time last year, or the year before that. (Actually, we are currently transitioning into a slightly more traditional arrangement - me home mostly and matt out and about working, networking & support raising... this in itself will become it's own blog post soon enough!) It's a tricky thing, to be sure, but both being there for our kids on a nearly full-time basis is blessing of a thing that being in ministry has afforded us.


If you're a parent, where do you find yourself now? Are you struggling in managing all your duties? Or are you thriving in finding an approach that suits you and your family? I would really love to hear about it!

(hope you enjoy all these matt photos... i'm usually always the one with the camera... and he's just a super awesome dad)