Categories
Inspiration

Humility, Compassion, and Understanding

This post first appeared on this blog in November 2014, but I had to delete the original because, during my five-and-a-half-year blogging hiatus, it became the target of literally tens of thousands of spam comments! I now have six kids, from 13 years down to 23 months, but everything I wrote here about my attitude and approach to parenting still holds true!


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Parenting is a humbling process. I say “process,” not “job,” because while the end goal of this adventure is a constant, the day-to-day details change over time. My biggest dream for my children is that they would grow up to love and follow Jesus. Period. But how to encourage them in that direction looks very different as they age from 7 days, to 7 months, to 7 years. And the frequent changes and mistakes I make as I adapt to my maturing children remind me how much I still have to learn about this parenting gig.

Categories
Inspiration

The Luckiest Kids in the World

This post first appeared on Assist News Service in May 2015.

We live in Ukraine. My husband and I are missionaries, and we have four sons (ages 8, 6, 4, and 2) who are growing up here. Three of them were even born here. In some respects, their childhood is unfolding similarly to how it would if we were living in the United States. In other respects, it is very different. I think these differences are enriching, rather than impoverishing, and I want them to recognize that too.

Recently my kids and their American cousins who also live here in Ukraine were playing make-believe. But while some kids play Doctor, and other kids play Cops and Robbers, these kids were playing something quite different.

Categories
Inspiration

Faith and the Ukrainian Medical System

This post first appeared on Assist News Service under the title “Medicine and Faith” in April 2015.

My first exposure to the Ukrainian medical system came early on. I moved to Ukraine to begin life with my husband, who had already been living here for ten years with his parents and siblings. At our wedding ceremony in Kyiv, one of the groomsmen, my husband’s 11-year-old brother Aaron, fainted. I will never forget the sickening sound of his head striking the tiled floor. He ended up spending about a month in the hospital.

During that time, my mother-in-law practically lived at the hospital with her youngest son, but I didn’t know why. Later I would learn that most nursing care in Ukraine only provides medical services. Nurses give injections, administer I.V.s, take blood pressure, etc. If a patient isn’t able to fend for himself, he needs a caretaker around the clock. My brother-in-law needed someone to feed him, help him use a bedpan, give him sponge baths, change his sheets, and even turn off his I.V.s when the fluid ran low.

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
Funny Quotes Inspiration Laughter

Hereditary Colorblindness?

Unlike the United States, Ukraine does not have many dark-skinned people, or Asians, for that matter. It's a fairly homogenous white society, which means that anyone of non-European descent stands out and might be exposed to ridicule, or worse. However, although I'm half Japanese, I've been fortunate.

I have not  experienced any racism here. Until recently.

Categories
Inspiration

Boys and Girls

One afternoon not too long ago my husband and I were on a date. All we were doing was sitting on a park bench talking, but since we didn't have the kids with us, it felt like a holiday. One nice thing about being out and about without kids is the ability to people watch, and on this day we saw something fascinating. It was a mother with three daughters about the same ages as our three sons. (That would be 5, 3, and 1, for those of you keeping score.) She parked her stroller by a bench, let her toddler out, then sat down and opened a book.

Categories
Daddy Joys

Solidarity is the New Initmacy

20120709-203616.jpgBefore my husband and I had children, our lives were wrapped up in each other. We were rarely apart, and when we had free time, we usually spent it doing something fun together. I'd spend half the day in the kitchen preparing a gourmet supper that we'd enjoy by candlelight. On summer weekends we'd picnic in the park or stroll around downtown Kyiv. We'd watch movies late into the night. (And we often did other things late into the night, if you know what I mean!)

Categories
Encouragement Inspiration

Making Memories

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I remember one evening when my sister and I were young. We were staying with our grandparents for the summer, and Grandpa was to put us to bed while Grandma was out at a church function. But after we got ready for bed and had climbed the stairs to the loft where we slept, instead of tucking us in, praying with us, and rubbing our backs as he usually did, Grandpa said, "Let's make a memory." I asked what that meant, and he explained that it meant doing something with people you love so that you could look back and remember it later.

Categories
Inspiration

Kids Are People Too

Yesterday we had seven children at our home. Five boys and two girls. Ages 1, almost 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I wish I had taken a picture, but I was so busy trying to keep order, cook, and retain a semblance of internal calm that it never entered my mind that the experience might make a good blog post and I would need pictures. The almost-2-year-old, 4-year-old, 6-year-old, and 7-year-old belonged to another family, and their parents were out of town for the day, so my husband and I got to practice large-family parenting skills for twelve hours. I'm so grateful that my husband was around to help out, because I'm not really good with kids.

Categories
Encouragement

Guest Post for Sprouts en Route

Just prior to our recent move, I wrote a guest post for Sprouts en Route, a blog by Kristin Spencer, another mom and missionary who writes about how to travel with kids and still enjoy the journey. It was part of her Ultimate Family Road Trip series. I wrote about how to keep order in the car. I mean, let's face it, keeping your kids in order when you're at home can be difficult enough. The mere thought of trying to do it on a road trip makes many parents cringe. But it doesn't have to be that way. Our family's lifestyle necessitates regular road trips where we spend ten or more hours in the car in a single day. But we enjoy it! Road trips can be fun for the whole family. You can read my tips and ideas for car travel with kids here.


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