Monday, July 25, 2011

Heart Geography

Kayla asked me a few days ago where Rwanda is. For her, this is not a land of mass murder and political chaos. For her, Rwanda just means the home of her brother. I did not decide that this 13-year-old African man-child was her brother, that was all her. When Nigusse was added to our family a few weeks ago, she asked me, "Mama, how are you going to take care of all six of us?" Even for her, she was half-joking. Still, it's a lot of pieces for a heart to be split into, even though I do little to provide daily for our children who don't live in our house.

Time has changed for me. If I look at the clock at see that it's 2:00 p.m., that means it's nap time for my girls. I also have become aware that it is around lunch time for Yeimi in Guatemala. It's 2 a.m. for Lordylien in the Philippines, and I hope she is sleeping peacefully, resting up for a new day.  It is 8 p.m. in Rwanda and I hope that Rugwiro has had dinner and that he is safe and at home with his aunt and uncle. It's one hour later in Ethiopia and I pray that Nigusse is with his father and getting ready to go to whatever he sleeps on for a bed.

I'm not saying that I have these thoughts every hour. My heart and head don't stay in five countries for the bulk of the day. Mostly they come when there is temporary quiet and the littles aren't pulling on me. I know that part of what is going on is my overprotective nature. I have no control over what is going on in four pieces of my heart. I can try to imagine and research what to pray for them and let them know that I think the world of them. I can love on them the best way I can with oceans and continents between us, with stickers, coloring books, and sports cards. But I can't lay my hands on them the way I do with the two who live with me and I can't see that they are safe with my own eyes.

For some reason, I'm supposed to think that this divided heart of mine will actually help someone else want to feel this way, to sponsor their own child, and spend their thoughts and affection in other time zones. But I do ask that you pray and consider giving a piece of your heart to someone new, someone who needs your prayers, your encouragement, and a little of your money. At only $38 dollars a month, it's barely a meal for my household at Chili's. The link on the right will take you straight to Compassion's website where you can find the child you never knew you had. Or just ask me. I have pictures of two children who are waiting for someone to sponsor them. One precious little boy who has been waiting over six months. If you have questions, ask them. Don't let your questions paralyze you.

Friday, July 22, 2011

This Is the Day

A friend who is also new to homeschooling borrowed an idea from one of her boys' teachers to have a "morning meeting", where you lay out your plans and expectations for the day. I thought it was a great idea so I borrowed it from her. On the first day we started Kindergarten, I explained the idea of a morning meeting to Kayla and started telling her what we would be doing during school and after. Even though I didn't plan to, I found myself telling her that the best thing about morning is that it's a new day, made new and clean by God, without any mistakes or disappointments. "This Is the Day" had been rolling around in my head for a few days, and I still don't know why. I didn't plan to, but I taught it to them. Well, it stuck.

Now we do it every day, along with some variation on that same conversation we had the first day. She is talking about a new day even on days we don't have school, and I think she's starting to understand what I'm talking about. The more remarkable thing is that I'm beginning to see this idea seep into my own thick skull. Five-year-olds aren't the only ones who need a clean slate every morning. They also aren't the only ones who learn by repetition. Teaching is a tricky business.

"This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." Psalm 118:24

Saturday, July 16, 2011

First Letters

I have always loved letters. For me, there is something so personal about seeing someone's hand-written words. It takes time and concentrated effort. Someone has to think about you while they are writing to you. They have to decide what information to share with you, and what words they will choose to share their thoughts. Maybe I'm the only person who feels this way, but I really doubt it.

Today, I received two letters. They were a complete surprise. Which is really strange because I've been waiting for at least one of them for over a month. But today when I walked to the mailbox, there was no anticipation. I had done a little guesswork math a few days ago and decided that a letter probably wouldn't come until August. However, I had done a little praying yesterday when I was disturbed by the first signs of waning passion. I had been waiting for one letter. The other one I was sure would take a few more months. I got them both, one from a fairly remote village in Guatemala and one from the largest city in the Philippines. I didn't even go into the house to read them. I sat in the back of the car and ripped them open, read them, gushed over them, and then I took them inside to read them to the girls and Sonny.

The first letter was from Lordylien, our 11-year-old from the Philippines. I got to learn the names and ages of her family members, her favorite things, and her future dreams (she wants to be a chef!). I also learned that she loves to dance and is in a dance group at school. My second letter is from the little girl chosen by Kayla, Yeimi. She is five-years-old and from a Mayan village in Guatemala. There was a small picture of her that I didn't expect. She's unbelievably precious. Since she is young, someone else wrote her letter. I learned that she has a younger brother. She said that she is very happy, that she loves us, and wants us to love her, too. As if I ever had any choice about that. My favorite part, though, was a small drawing of a house, the sun, and a flower, because that was all her and required no translator.

Passion crisis averted.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Meet Nigusse

Nigusse is the newest member of our family. He is 13-years old and from Ethiopia. The biggest thing I know about Nigusse so far is that he lives with his father; his mother is dead. Other than that, he sounds like a typical boy, into soccer, running, and playing other games with friends. He's an average student, but he's only in the 5th grade. Well, he's a typical boy who carries water to his home for his family and lives in an AIDS-ridden, impoverished country. But still a boy.

We are not financially supporting Nigusse (someone else is doing that), but we have been given the privilege of writing to him and praying for him. This is my second child who has lost parents in two months, both in African countries. They are both in their early teens, which seems to me to be an even harder time to be without parents. Letters and prayers don't seem to be enough, but they are what God and Compassion have given us to work with. So we will write, pray, and send all the goodies we can find. Now I'm really glad I bought all of those soccer cards.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Babble On

There's a lot rolling around in my head right now, and very little of it even goes together. Still, I feel like I'm losing momentum here, and I feel like putting anything in this little box will clear my head of this one need. Apparently my head is prime real estate right now, and there are a lot of competing thoughts.

We finished Day 4 of Kindergarten today. Kayla is loving it, but she says I'm making the Math too easy. I really hope she keeps finding it easy, but I doubt it. I'm also finding (well, remembering because I already knew) that she doesn't like correction at all. Apple = Kayla, Tree = Me I'm trying to come up with new ways to give feedback. "No" is definitely a four-letter word to her. However, she is still having a lot of fun and asks to start school in the morning. I also am trying to figure out other things for Lily to do while we're having school. She was purposefully disrupting today just to get my attention. We read and played later, but the coloring books that held her interest last week failed me during school today.

I had my first phone training as a Compassion Advocate last night. It was a lot of fun, but it let me know how much I still need to learn. I'm going to try to find an event to volunteer at over the next couple of months, since that was recommended by the trainer. There are also podcasted training sessions that I can listen to and other calls to sign up for. I now know more about malaria than I ever thought I needed to know.

And I'm really wondering if one-day fasts really are a little too easy. Today really hasn't been bad at all. I am hungry, that I don't deny, but not that hungry. I do find hunger pangs to be the best reminder to pray. I think it's something about having a perceived physical need. I will definitely be excited about my watermelon and waffles tonight, but it isn't as hard as it once was. I think next time I may need a full technology fast as well. I am far too easily distracted by the technology in my house. This is another reason I need to keep a dumb phone. I really can't afford to add another distraction.

And then there's bills, lowering bills, saving more, giving more, planning things to do with the kids, finding new things to send to my faraway kids, finding time to spend with Sonny, kids' songs that won't leave my head, the lack of time management skills I seem to possess, and, oh yeah, did I mention waffles? Oatmeal waffles to be exact. Topped with baked apples with a little date honey on the side. My brain is like a cartoon whirpool.

Monday, July 04, 2011


I have always struggled with the need for people to like me. I didn't necessarily want them to all call me friend, but I wanted them to like who I am. I don't remember a time when I didn't have that desire. What also comes with this is a desire to be understood, for my passions to matter to other people. When all of this is put together, it is easy to see why social media can be so toxic to someone like me. You think about your list of friends before you share links, concerned for who might be offended. You wonder if the same people who "like" cute pictures of your kids care if children are dying hourly from unclean water. You overthink everything you type, wondering if it will be misunderstood or if anybody outside a very small circle even cares.

The phrase "sphere of influence" has been rolling around in my brain a lot over the past month or so. Just the idea that there was supposed to be a group of individuals who are influenced by me. The idea has made me stumble a few times even in areas where I strongly feel called. I don't blame the small size of this group on anyone but myself. Wallflowers cannot try to blend in one moment and then cry about the injustice of not being noticed the next. Well, I guess they can, but the idea is ridiculous. And uncomfortable, because it means that if I am obedient, I stop trying to blend. If I am obedient, I stop trying to make everyone like me, and do what God tells me to do. If I am obedient, I stop questioning if anyone else even cares, and I present God's heart, despite my discomfort. If I am obedient, I serve God, and not people.