Categories
Inspiration

Nightmare Inspiration

Not long ago I had a nightmare. In my dream the Nazis had taken over the country where we lived. Because my husband was Jewish (he isn't, but in the dream he was), we knew that he and our children were in great danger.

We were all taken to some sort of compound and left in a room with bunk beds. We slept, but in the middle of the night, a seemingly friendly official awoke us to tell us of the regime's plans to create pristine factories to be staffed by the expatriate Americans still left in the country. He seemed to be seeking our advice or approval for this plan, and we nodded our heads as he described how good the conditions would be and showed us pictures of a prototype. It looked wonderful. Everything was clean; even the floors were a gleaming white, and the workers were dressed neatly in starched white uniforms. But in our hearts we knew that it was all a ploy to gain our compliance; our captors did not intend any good for us.

Our fears were confirmed when this same official returned to our room to inform us that my husband and I would be taken immediately, and we were to leave our children behind. "This will be the last time you see them," he said, "so make it good." My two older boys, ages 4 and 2, were standing there, sleepy and a bit confused, and as I looked at them, my heart was in agony. I wanted to cling desperately to them and sob out my heartbreak, but I knew I needed to keep my emotions in check, because I didn't want to frighten them, and I wanted their last memory of me to be positive. Above all, in our final moments together, I wanted to impress on their young minds the importance of clinging to Jesus. He would now be the only one caring for them and our only hope of one day being reunited.

How do you communicate to such young children all that is necessary in such a short amount of time? I stood still, trying desperately to form my swirling thoughts into words that their little minds would understand and remember long after I was gone. The tension of the moment was too great, and I woke up.

Sometimes when you wake in the middle of a nightmare, your heart is pounding and your mind is racing. It takes a few moments for you to realize that it was all just a dream, but when you do, profound relief and sometimes even elation immediately flood in. This waking was not like that. My body and mind were calm, and as soon as I opened my eyes, I understood that I had been dreaming. But though I was relieved, the terror of the dream remained with me, and I lay in bed praying earnestly that, no matter what happened, my precious children would follow Jesus.

Hours later, the effect of this dream was still with me and was subtly affecting my interactions with my children. What if this were the last time I would see them? Had I taught them everything I could about the things that really mattered? Resolving their fights now centered more around teaching them that they were brothers and best friends who needed to take care of each other rather than finding out who was at fault. And I found myself frequently stopping what I was doing just to hug them and tell them that I loved them and that Jesus loves them even more.

This was a little over a week ago, and my eldest son already seems to be developing a different, more caring attitude towards his younger brother. And I think that perhaps I'm learning to enjoy my children more intentionally, even in the midst of the confusion and chaos that they generate. Though I would never want to revisit it, one day I may look back on this nightmare as one of the best things that ever happened to my parenting strategy.

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What about you? Has something extremely unwelcome ever turned out to be a blessing in disguise?


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Categories
Funny Quotes Laughter

Things I Never Anticipated Saying Before I Became a Mother: #5

"Sit down and eat your napkin!"


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Other things I never anticipated saying.

Categories
Laughter

I Love Boundaries, Do You?

Today I'm guest posting on the Calvary Chapel Missionary Women Blog. It's a humorous (I hope) account of a fairly new aspect of my life here in Ukraine. You can read it here. While you're at it, check out the rest of the website. It's a great resource for anyone wanting to get a more personal look at the lives of missionaries!


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Categories
Encouragement

It’s Just a Stage

I am a full-time, stay-at-home mom. I spend all day, almost every day, with small children. I gave birth to three babies, all of them boys, in under four years. (The most recent addition came just ten months ago.) The details of my day-to-day life revolve around the three little ones who need so much of my help and crave so much of my attention.

In the middle of this stage, it's difficult to imagine that it could ever be any different. My life feels like an endless cycle of wiping runny noses, doing laundry, intervening in brotherly quarrels, preparing meals, helping children eat (while nursing the baby), vacuuming up little bits of food scattered all over the dining room floor, cleaning messy faces, tripping over toys, wiping poopy bottoms, folding piles of laundry, brushing little teeth, washing dishes, bathing little bodies, and collapsing into bed at the end of the day, praying for a night of uninterrupted sleep and hoping that the next day's cycle won't start before 7 a.m.

I keep telling myself that it's just a stage. Little by little, the children will learn to do things for themselves. The constant fatigue will pass. I will not always feel perpetually distracted. The mental fog will lift (I hope). And one day my husband and I may be able to enjoy being spontaneous lovers again. I know these things, but it's difficult to imagine a life like that. But just the other day I realized that in one short year, we'll be getting ready to send our eldest to kindergarten, and I noticed that day by day he's becoming more of a little boy and less of a small child. Then I looked at my other two precious ones and was newly motivated to savor all the moments of their childhood, from kissing their boo-boos (real and imaginary), to cuddling them close (when they wake me up in the middle of the night), and watching their wonder and excitement as they discover the world around them (while making a horrific mess in the process). It's just a short stage, and when it's over, I know I'll miss it.


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Categories
Funny Quotes Laughter

Things I Never Anticipated Saying Before I Became a Mother: #4

"No, mayonnaise doesn't have fiber."


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Other things I never anticipated saying.

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Funny Quotes Laughter

Things I Never Anticipated Saying Before I Became a Mother: #3

"Can we get a dog?" my 4-year-old asked.

"Sorry, sweetie," I said. "Our landlady said we couldn't have a dog."

He was visibly downcast for a moment, then he brightened as another idea occurred to him. "How about an elephant?" he asked, eyes sparkling.

That's when I found myself saying:

"Elephants are too big to live in apartments."


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Other things I never anticipated saying.

Categories
Encouragement

Summer’s Here Again

Summer has arrived in Ukraine. For the last two weeks we've been enjoying sunny weather with temperatures in the high 70s and low 80s (that's the mid to high 20s, for all you Celsius readers out there). Even after living here for eight years, I am still amazed by the change from the dead of winter to the blaze of summer. In January it seems impossible that the earth could ever become warm again, but each June and July I find myself sweating and longing for the cool of autumn. I guess many things in life are like that. Night gives way to day. Tears end, and joy returns. No difficulty is permanent. As it says in the Psalms, "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning."

Now that summer is upon us, I've been reflecting on this past spring. I would love to hear what things you found interesting during that season. If you're a blogger, leave a comment with a link to your favorite post that you wrote during March, April, or May. (If you're not a blogger, you can link to your favorite post on someone else's blog.) I'm looking forward to reading your favorites! Here's mine.


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Categories
Inspiration

Our Best Purchase

About two months ago, a friend offered to sell my husband and me her stationary bike. We weren't in the market for exercise equipment, but we're into fitness (er, well, my husband is into fitness, and I like to think that I am, but all I really do is let breastfeeding, carrying the baby, and refereeing my two older boys serve as my weight-loss and fitness program), so despite the fact that we had to get rid of some furniture to fit the bike in our apartment, we said yes. It's probably the best purchase we've made all year.

My husband loves the efficiency of being able to do a cardiovascular workout without leaving home. (Up until now, his favorite workouts were swimming and playing basketball, neither of which our apartment is equipped to handle.) I love something completely different about the exercise bike. It's revolutionizing my prayer life.

Before the exercise bike, I would try to get up early to have some quality prayer time. But since fatigue is the normal state of existence for a mother of small children, I had trouble staying awake while I prayed. Sometimes, I would try walking around the living room to stay alert, but that usually just made me dizzy. The exercise bike changed all that. Pedaling keeps my mind alert, while being stationary keeps my body balanced, which frees my soul to soar on the wings of prayer. And as my workout increases in intensity, so do my prayers. (All this has made me wonder what the exact relationship is within the body-mind-spirit trinity that defines us, but figuring that one out is probably beyond the scope of this post.)

Besides keeping me focused while I pray, the exercise bike helps get me out of bed in the first place. Some mornings I'm more motivated to pursue physical fitness than spiritual fitness. I know–that's sad. And backwards. But that's the way I am sometimes. So on those mornings when the temptation to doze for a few more minutes is nearly overpowering, the mental image of another me with beautifully toned legs and a resting pulse rate around 60 beats per minute can help lure me out of bed and into my unconventional prayer closet. I climb on the bike, and I'm off. Twenty-five minutes later, I've had at least 20 minutes of aerobic activity, I've burned over 250 calories*, and I've prayed my way around the world, interceding for people and situations both nearby and far away. It's a superb way to start the day.

I recently caught my husband taking a long, appreciative look at me. I arched my eyebrows playfully, and he grinned and said, "You've always had a great figure, but now . . ." Just one more reason to get out of bed at daybreak to ride and pray! What about you? What is your favorite place to pray?

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* I don't think this number is accurate, but it's what the bike's screen tells me. The bike has 8 different levels of resistance, but I've noticed that it takes exactly the same number of revolutions to burn 1 calorie no matter which resistance setting I choose. Will someone please explain to me how pedaling hard uphill for one minute burns fewer calories than pedaling leisurely on a flat surface for the same amount of time??


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Categories
Funny Quotes Laughter

Things I Never Anticipated Saying Before I Became a Mother: #2

"Don't drop things on the baby."


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Categories
Laughter

Part-Time Referee

I've never been much of an athlete or sports fan, but I'm finding that as a full-time mom to boys, my job description includes "part-time referee." The games are many and varied, ranging from the expected sword fights, splash wars, and wrestling matches to imaginative games of David and Goliath, Lion and Lion Tamer, and Moses in the Basket, to downright bizarre games like Eat Your Brother, Bite the Baby, and Pee on Each Other (the latter in the bathtub, thankfully). As referee, it is my task to define fair play and enforce it. I make it pretty simple. Regardless of the game, there are only two rules: 1) be kind, and 2) don't hurt your brother. I suppose I could add: 3) don't hurl dense objects, 4) don't use the pictures on the wall for target practice, and 5) don't pretend that the bookshelves are Annapurna and you are mountaineers, but that's pretty complicated for a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old, don't you think?

I loathe yelling and make it a goal not to shout at my children, but often they make so much noise that they can't hear me unless I raise my voice at least nineteen times above its normal level. To avoid sharing my motherly admonitions with the rest of the apartment block, sometimes I'll wade into the fray to get the boys' attention without shouting. However, this strategy isn't practical when I'm cooking something whose recipe includes the words "stir constantly," or when I'm nursing the baby, or (and this is my favorite) when I'm holding the baby over the toilet because he needs to go poop! So in those instances I have two choices. I can temporarily abandon my referee responsibilities (which usually means abandoning my second child to the mercy of his older brother), or I can yell at the boys until they realize that Mommy is saying something and they'd better stop to listen. **sigh** I feel like I've been doing too much yelling lately.

The other day it occurred to me that a referee's whistle might come in handy.

I think I'll ask for one for Mother's Day.

************

What about you? What are you hoping for (or planning to give) on Mother's Day?


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