Categories
Encouragement Inspiration

The Stunning Power of Kindness

Not long ago I witnessed this heart-warming scene:

My almost-2-year-old was standing in the kitchen holding his almost-4-year-old brother’s water bottle. Big brother went up to little brother and roughly snatched his water bottle away. Little brother responded by hitting big brother.

Categories
Encouragement

Oh, How I Love Boundaries!

This post first appeared as a guest post on a blog for missionary women in 2011. (That blog no longer exists, or I would link to it here.)


I’ve started to drive again. Until recently, I could have counted on one hand the number of times I had gotten behind the wheel of a car in Ukraine since moving to this country eight and a half years ago.

Categories
Encouragement

Why We Chose to Send Our Kids to Public School

This post originally appeared on the Assist News website in February 2015.

We are on our way back to Ukraine after a two-month furlough in the United States. Before having kids, we usually only spent a month at a time in the U.S., but we would travel there every other year, and sometimes more frequently when important family events required it. Since having kids, however, we have settled into a schedule of visiting for two months once every three years.

Scheduling our furloughs three years apart allows us to focus on our ministry in Ukraine without too many interruptions. At the same time, these furloughs are frequent enough to give us regular opportunities to gain valuable perspective on the work we’re doing and hone our vision in all areas, from church planting, to discipleship, to marriage, to parenting. The latter especially interests me, since most of what I do from day to day revolves around our four young children, and honestly, sometimes it all feels overwhelming.

We’re in an unusual position as we navigate the joys and pitfalls of raising third-culture kids, children who grow up in a culture outside their parents’ home culture. We know a few other American families with kids in Ukraine, but most of our friends are Ukrainian. While many of the issues we face with our kids are the same, there are differences based on the fact that the language of our home is mostly English, and the culture of our family is predominantly American. So from time to time, it can be helpful to talk to other American moms and and learn things like the best educational children’s shows or whether the newest Bible story book is worth purchasing or not. This furlough provided plenty of opportunities for exchanges like this.

One topic that came up frequently was homeschooling.

Categories
Encouragement

10 Ways to Help a Missionary on Furlough

Jameswcarryon

This post originally appeared on Assist News in January 2015.

My family and I are not actually in Ukraine at the moment. We are home on furlough for two months. Writing that sentence makes me feel conflicted, because after having lived abroad for so many years, the term “home” has become perplexing. We no longer feel fully at home anywhere, but we have family and dear friends all over the world. As a result, we are privileged to have the feel of homecoming when we travel to many different locations. This is especially true of the American Midwest, where we spent the first month of our furlough.

Categories
Encouragement

Learning from the Language

(This post first appeared on Assist News Service in November 2014.)

Most students of a foreign language want to be able to communicate with people from a different culture, either at home or while traveling. But learning a foreign language does so much more than open the doors to communication; it also gives valuable insights into the other culture.

Categories
Daddy Joys Encouragement

Compliments from my 2-Year-Old

Becoming a mother does something to your self-esteem. I don't know how many times I've thought (or heard) some variation of the following:

"You should have seen me before I had kids. I used to be __(fill in the blank)__!"

Skinny.

Groomed.

Fashionable.

Punctual.

Calm.

Focused.

Sane.

I have heard my mother-in-law, who has nine children, fill in the blank with "intelligent." 

I most frequently fill it in with "organized." 

Of course, all mommies know that the children who enter our lives and change us forever are worth infinitely more than all the attributes and freedoms we had to relinquish with their coming. Who cares about stretch marks, bags under the eyes, perpetual fatigue, and appearing like a hopeless scatterbrain? When we're surrounded by the people we love most in the worldthe ones for whom we have poured out our lives and for whom we gladly continue to do sothese sacrifices seem small. The choice was good and right, and given the chance, we'd do it again in a heartbeat.

Categories
Encouragement

Happy Valentine’s Day

Hi. Remember me? I used to write on this blog. I still plan to again, but tonight won't be the night that I begin to write in earnest. Tonight I just wanted to check in to say that I've been busy, overwhelmed, strung-out, exhausted, and, well, you get the idea. And I have a picture to prove it.

Today is Valentine's Day. And this evening I took this picture in our living room. In case you can't tell, that's a disassembled fake Christmas tree on the floor and boxes of Christmas decorations on the table in the background.

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Yes, I finally took down our tree and decorations today, on Valentine's Day. So in case you were feeling guilty for being disorganized or scatterbrained or un-punctual or anything like that, you can just look at this picture for an instant ego boost, because at least you got your tree down before mid February!

Consider it my little Valentine's Day gift to you.

You're welcome.

Sharon

P.S. And if you still have your tree up, at least you can know that you're not the only person to keep one around until winter is practically over!


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Categories
Encouragement

Wanting Results

Tonight I posted this status update on Facebook:

"Few things these days make me feel as productive as sewing. Maybe that's because it's one of my only activities with a concrete result that lasts for more than 20 minutes or so?"

The first comment was from a friend whose kids have grown up and left home. She said, "I hear you!!" 

I have to admit that I was taken aback, because I was hoping that by the time I reach her stage of life, the frustration and discouragement of having most of my work quickly undone by small children on a perpetual seek-and-destroy mission would be far behind me.

Categories
Encouragement Household Joys

7 Housekeeping Shortcuts

If you're a regular around here, you already know that I'm not the best housekeeper. However, I have a few philosophies of housekeeping that I've developed in recent years that have been tremendous time (and sanity) savers. I'd like to share them with you, because I'm pretty certain that I'm not the only mother of small children who finds that keeping up with the messes that kids make while also trying to keep up with the kids is impossible.

And discouraging.

Someone once said that cleaning your house while your children are around is like trying to brush your teeth while eating an Oreo cookie. So here's to enjoying your Oreo cookies–or something like that.

Categories
Daddy Joys Encouragement

Still {Happily} Married

I recently remembered an unpleasant experience I had when I was a young wife. My husband and I were attending a conference. As was usual for us, we were acting very much like newlyweds. Another wife, ten to fifteen years older than I was, asked, "How long have you been married?" When she found out that we'd only been married for seven months, she assumed a superior air and said, "Well, you may feel that way now, but just wait until you've been married for seven years." Her tone and facial expression made it clear that she didn't expect the joy and tenderness to last.