Tag Archives: love

Cold tea

Everything has taken a back seat—blogging, sleep, the bread making ministry, answering emails and oh yeah did I mention SLEEP. I really miss it. I mean really, really miss it. The freedom to just take a nap or sleep in sounds so heavenly, but I guess that’s just not reality right now. Yeah, my little guy will sleep for fairly long periods at a time, sometimes. Other days not so much.

Some days I feel like I can handle it and other days I don’t handle it well at all. My brain feels like it’s in a constant state of fuzz and it takes everything in me to just perform basic tasks. Is it worth it? Of course, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. I know it’s just a season. Someday, some glorious, blessed day my little guy will sleep through the night and I’ll be so shocked that I’ll probably get up five times anyway just to check on him. Life, what do you do? Seriously what do you do?

You hold on, I guess. Even if it’s just by your pinky finger—you hold on. You remember that even though life doesn’t seem fair at times, and it’s far from easy that this is it. And, when the fog does lift a little and your more normal state of mind returns it really is so wonderful. Those satisfied grins keep you going at 2am. Those little fingers wrapped around yours mean more then words can express. When he does fall asleep after crying, and crying, and crying there’s a beautiful, angelic peace and you ask yourself why were you so overwhelmed two seconds ago. He’s a perfect angel. You learn to be OK with stopping in the middle of projects. You learn not to plan so much. You learn to take five minute showers. You learn to write shorter blogs and drink cold tea. You learn to just hold on. What else can you do? It’s worth it. It’s a season, a season of learning that you’re not as strong as you thought you were and you learn to be ok with that.

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Perfect Love

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Sitting in a plastic chair trying not to think too much. Hospitals, pain, the unknown—sometimes I feel myself consumed by fear. I was barely showing but many of the ladies around me had huge bellies, and I thought to myself, “can I really do this.”

Fear—it’s no joke. Pain is hard to ignore. The unknown—how do you prepare when you don’t know what to prepare for?

But, as I sat there trying not to think too much the words—perfect love casts out fear popped into my head. Perfect love—love the opposite of fear.

Fear tears down.

Love heals.

Fear destroys.

Love creates.

Love gives confidence.

Fear debilitates.

It’s as simple as that.

“There is no fear in love.” 1 John 4:18 says. “But perfect love drives out fear.”

So that’s the answer. Not as much a change of circumstances, but a change of perspective—a change of attitude. The unknown, the pain, the reality of the future is still as real as it was yesterday but today, this year, this moment I want to choose love. I’m tired of being consumed by fear and things that I can’t change. This year I choose to let love get me through. Perfect love, the love of the Father. The love we can only know because He first loved us.

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Popcorn Man

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We’ve been working on learning letters. “B” and “P” ended up sounding the same, so I tried saying “P” popcorn over and over. I guess my little guy liked the sound of the word popcorn. It made him laugh. As far as I know, he has never had popcorn before in his life. But, it is a fun word to say; and it did the trick of distinguishing the letters “B” and “P”.

When I first meet Bradley, I was told that he was deaf and a little bit mute. He didn’t communicate much at first. He played by himself more then he did with other kids and ran around naked most of the time. Adults tended to put up with his quirky behaviors to a certain extent but would then chase him off to go and play somewhere else.

People simply called him Boss. So much so that it took me awhile to find out his given name. He responded much quicker to Boss then he did to Bradley, and seemed content to go about his day climbing trees and drifting from place to place.

Our hut quickly became his new favorite attraction, thanks to the abundance of fruit that people had given us. Other village kids were shy when it came to interacting with me. Some of them had never seen someone with my skin and hair color before. When sharing our wealth of fruit with the neighbor kids, they would come up shyly and respectfully say thank you, giggle, and then run back to playing. Not Bradley. First thing in the morning he would run up to our hut grab the orange or passion fruit and hang around for more. He became my little shadow tilting his head back and forth and looking up at me with his irresistible little grin. After a while someone would chase him off telling him to go home and put some clothes on. He usually came back wearing an oversize t-shirt and would hang around some more.

Even though people told me he didn’t speak properly I couldn’t tell much of a difference because I only knew a few words in my husband’s local language. I communicated with him like I did with the other kids—mostly smiles and gestures. One day I was rewarded with a big hug from my new little friend.

When our time in the village was coming to an end, Bradley’s parents and grandmother agree to let us take him back with us to the capital city. We hadn’t planned on doing this, but seeing Bradley’s need for some one-on-one attention really tugged at our hearts.

We’re not sure how long Bradley will stay with us. Today marks four months of having him as apart of our little family. To tell the truth it’s been an exhausting, but rewarding experience. Everything was new for him—the plane ride, turning on a light switch, turning on a water faucet, wearing shoes. Communication has been a huge challenge, but Bradley has improved so much. He is not deaf and definitely not mute. As time has passed, he has learned quite a bit of Pidgin English and some English as well. He’s slowly learning to play with the neighbor kids here. “No hitting, no pushing, and no pinching” are still frequently used phrases, but they are slowly starting to sink in. He makes friends wherever he goes (the casher at the grocery store, the security lady at the local nature park). He just runs up and starts interacting with people in his own little way, and his contagious belly laugh over the smallest things usually wins them over.

We’ve almost got the alphabet down. The other day in the grocery store I saw a bag of unpopped popcorn and asked Bradley if he wanted to try it. “Yeah, yeah, yeah,” was his response as he shook his hands up and down in excitement. He liked it—the popping sound, the fluffy white popped kernels, but mostly he just liked gobbling it up as most five-year-olds do. I left him unsupervised for less then five minutes and came back to half a container of salt poured into one of the bowls of popped popcorn. Oops, my bad. Note to self, don’t leave the salt anywhere near where he can reach it. But, the popcorn and abundance of salt were mostly salvageable. He’s a handful no denying that. But, even on the extremely overwhelming days when my husband and I ask ourselves, “what were we thinking?!” the reward of seeing him improve each and every day makes it so worth it. I love my little popcorn man.

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Another Nun Deserts the Abbey

It’s a rare thing in life to be blessed with a true, life giving friendship. I’ve been extremely blessed by several and one of those is with you. I guess that’s why I have a twinge in my heart this week as I’m miles away on the week that you’re about to say, “I do” to the love of your life.

I wish I could be there to see you walk down the isle in a room decorated with burlap and lace. I wish I could help you set up tables, iron dresses, and arrange flowers, but, since it’s not always possible to be where you want to be, please know that my thoughts are with you both as you begin this journey together.

You were one of the first people I met when I moved onto the 10th floor of Houghton Hall. One of my first memories with you is getting kicked out of Lincoln Park for rollerblading on the premises. I should have known right then that being friends with you would be adventurous. There was that time you convinced me to chop my hair off, Redbox movie nights, senior retreat, basketball games, two road trips to Georgia, getting our ears pierced on a whim, combined birthdays (my favorite being our trip to San Francisco). I’ll always remember the random Cubs game we went to, Junior/Senoir banquets, graduation, Chicago reunions, the time you stopped to see me on your way to Texas, phone calls, breakfast together on the morning of my big day, and having you standing there with me just eight months ago when I said, “I do.”

Now it’s your turn pretty lady, and (in regard to our college floor The Ten North Nuns) you’ve become the latest deserter of the abbey. I cherish all the memories, but what I probably appreciate the most are all the “little” things like the time I had intended to make brownies for the newspaper staff but in the midst of a crazy week ran out of time. I hurried back from my internship with just enough time to make it to the all night newspaper paste up to find that you had made the brownie for me. Now that’s a true friend. I won’t forget all those early mornings when we were roommates and you had to be at work super early, but you’d get ready so quietly that I barely even noticed. I won’t forget that time I had meant to apply for what I thought would be a dream job, but in the midst of the busyness of everything didn’t apply before the job was given to someone else. You told me to have a good cry and then move on. I needed to hear that.

Thanks for steaming the wrinkles out of my wedding dress and making sure I got some sleep the night before. I needed that too. I wish I could be there to do the same thing for you, but since I’m not able to be there, here are some pearls of wisdom about marriage that I’ve actually found to be useful not just nice sayings to put on the wall. As I was entering an intercultural marriage, I made a point to collect advice from intercultural couples, but I find their answers to be universally helpful so here goes:

Don’t always expect the other person to change, be willing to change yourself- Easy to say, but hard to do. Really though, this piece of advice really stuck with me. It’s so easy to assume that things should be done the way your family does it, or the way you’ve been doing it as a single person, but those single days are over. You’re a new family, so be willing to let go of cultural preferences and family traditions in order to build a new unique life together.

If you want to start a habit, such as reading devotions together or a regular date night, do it early on- Start forming those daily habits early even during the honeymoon because that’s a time when people give you some slack to take the time you need. Life gets crazy, and it’s easy to let things slide if you don’t start early. So, use those early days intentionally.

People (especially those church ladies) can be opinionated and often critical when it comes to issues like when to have kids. Decide what works best for you as a couple and then stand by your decision– Don’t let people imposing their views on you (it will happen and happen often) upset you. With many issues it’s not so much a case of right or wrong, but what works for both of you. At the end of the day you are the ones who have to live with the decisions you make, so focus on what works for you as a couple not on what will please people.

Don’t sweat the small stuff- It’s called small stuff for a reason. Are toothpaste tubes and toilet paper rolls really worth even arguing over? Just let it go. There are bigger things in life to focus on, and if you find that you just can’t stand the whole toothpaste tube squeezed or rolled get your own tube. Find solutions to things not things to nag about. 1st Corinthians 13 says, “love bears all things.” Part of marriage involves getting over yourself and bearing the imperfections of another person. Remember, your spouse is bearing your imperfections too. A little understanding and patience can go along way and help keep everyone sane.

Find the positive side of a negative- Most negatives have a positive it just takes some time and thought to find it. For example, there are times when my husband runs late. I like to be on time and not waste time, so it is easy to see this as a negative trait and be frustrated. But, usually the reason he is running late is because he has stopped to help someone or to talk to someone who needed a kind word. This people oriented heart is one of the traits that I admire most in him. When I stop and realize the reason for the lateness it’s much easier to let go of my feelings of annoyance and appreciate his people oriented instead of time oriented ways.

Communicate- Just about everyone I talked to said this first. No one is a mind reader, so talk about what is on your mind. Marriage involves a lot of adjustments, highs, lows, and everything in between. Talk it out, but also talk during a time when you’re not tired or stressed. Sometimes it’s OK to sleep on it so that the issue can actually be discussed without emotions getting the upper hand.

And finally my own personal pet peeve…

The first year doesn’t have to be the hardest– Maybe it is for some people. I’m sure it can be quite a challenge/adjustment especially for those who marry young, but the idea of, “just survive the first year and then things get better after that,” really bothers me. Enjoy each year don’t be waiting for some inevitable dark cloud to roll in over your honeymoon happiness. Sure, life will change as the months pass, but they are still good times. The first year can be full of such happy memories and adventure as you start building a future together. Don’t loose that by adopting a survival mentality. Take each new day, week, and year as it comes. Most of all enjoy life with your best friend. Wishing you the very best my friend. Enjoy your day and know that I am thinking about you and celebrating with you from miles away.

Too many memories to count.

Too many memories to count.

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Humbled by Love

My ten-year-old nephew just stopped by our little grass hut, “I want to kill a kakaruk (chicken) for you.” The meal was in need of some rice, so I dragged the 10 kg bag of rice over to the door and scooped three mug fulls into his tin pot. I guess it’s chicken for lunch today.

Since coming to my husband’s village in PNG nearly a week ago, I haven’t cooked a single meal. People stop by the house daily to drop off fresh fruit and vegetables and sometimes even eggs and scones (bread rolls). We ventured into town a few days ago and while shopping I loaded about a week’s worth of boxed chocolate milk into our shopping cart. Life without electricity makes it hard to have a fridge, so I figured that the shelf milk would be a nice way to get some calcium since these boxes don’t need refrigeration. A couple people must have noticed my love for chocolate milk and for the last two days two different family members have dropped by the house to add more boxes of chocolate milk to my growing collection.

It’s so humbling to be shown love in such practical ways. I’m the first foreigner from my husband’s tribe in Papua New Guinea to marry someone from their tribe and then come to live in their village. To be honest, everyone’s kind reception has been so overwhelmingly loving. A generous crowd met us at the airport hugging us and crying with joy. We then piled into two buses which took us from the airport into town. In town, we caught another couple of buses which took us as close to the village as the roads allowed. From the end of the road we walked. As we got closer to the village, first the kids appeared yelling their welcome and running to greet us.

Further up the road we meet the mothers and some of the elderly men of the village. Even though rain was starting to fall, they stood on the road waiting to greet us. Only one little girl started to scream when she saw me. She had never seen a white person before, and I guess the experience left her a bit frightened.

Coming down the main hill to the village the light rain turned the mountain path into a bit of a slip and slide. When I started to slip, two people grabbed my hands and helped me make it down the mountain in one piece. It’s humbling to feel so helpless needing basic assistance for something as simple as walking down the road, but it’s so beautiful to see such kind demonstrations of love. Yesterday, when we were out on that same road two of the guys had taken the time to cut steps all the way up the slippery part of the path so that I could walk up and down the hill without any problems. It’s hard to even find words to express my gratitude except to say that I’m so humbled by everyone’s love.

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Once we made it down the path and through the welcoming arms of everyone who came out to say hello I was shown to our new house—a beautiful two bedroom grass hut complete with passion fruit and oranges hanging from the ceiling as a welcome gift. Again, I was blown away. We had told everyone that we were fine staying with my husband’s mom until we had a chance to build our own house, but my husband’s brothers decided that we needed our own place to live in until we have time to build something more permanent. Again, I was blown away—such love. I am humbled and grateful to have been given so much especially by people who, according to the world’s economic standards, have so little. What love.

Our beautiful little hut

Our beautiful little hut

What a welcome

What a welcome

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Stealing my Joy

As I was hand-washing two large sinks full of laundry the neighbor started burning her trash sending a cloud of smoke billowing into our yard. “Oh joy,” I thought as I rung out a towel. “All this work washing the clothes, and they’re just going to end up smelling like smoke.”

But my mind wasn’t really on the laundry or even on the neighbor’s smoke. My thoughts swirled around a lady I’d never met who thought that my husband should be with her not with me. She took pictures off my facebook page, posted them on her own page and she and her friends proceeded to slam us, our marriage, and even our ministry.

To be honest my heart hurts for her. This particular lady says she wants to be a missionary, but has not yet been able to go. She seems to want what other people have, a happy marriage and an active ministry. Because that hasn’t happened yet in her life, she has allowed bitterness and jealousy seem to take hold of her stealing her joy, so in turn she wants to steal other people’s joy.

I share this story not to put her in a negative light. She is clearly a hurting individual. We have forgiven her written attacks and have prayed that God will bring people into her life to help her work through the pain that she is obviously going through. I share this story as a reminder that it’s so easy to let someone steal your joy. There are times that I have let her steal mine. In frustration over what she has said against my husband, I let her disturb my peace. At the end of the day, the truth is still the truth. God sees my attitude just as he sees hers. That’s what I’m responsible for, my attitude, not hers or anyone else’s.

This doesn’t mean that people should be allowed to get away with hurting others, it means that God is a defender. He is a God of justice. He sees people’s hearts, motives and actions; and He acts.

“To the faithful you show yourself faithful, to the blameless you show yourself blameless, to the pure you show yourself pure, but to the devious you show yourself shrewd. You save the humble but bring low those whose eyes are haughty.” –Psalms 18:25-27

Having God as our defender doesn’t mean that Christians must be passive and let people stomp all over their lives. We can actively face our problems, but knowing that God is fighting for us our focus needs to remain on maintaining our own personal peace remembering that ultimately God is fighting for us. This week a wise friend of mine told me, “when people throw bricks at you to bring you down, collect those bricks and use them to build a firm foundation for yourself.”

Don’t let someone steal your joy. At times I’m tempted to take pictures down from facebook or just delete my account so that I don’t have to see the hateful posts that a small minority of people write, but doing that would be allowing someone to steal my joy. Facebook helps me stay connected to my family and friends even though I’m oceans away from so many people that I cherish. I love seeing my friends’ children growing up. I love hearing about graduations, birthdays, and even the little moments of life. As far as photos go, I love photography. Pictures have a way of bringing a smile to my face and pulling happy memories to mind. I’m not going to let someone I never met take that joy from me.

The smoke cleared just as I finished the last of the clothes. I hung them up in the clear, warm sunshine; and as I folded them later in the afternoon there was no trace of smoke on them. Trials come. Smoke stings your eyes and threatens your happiness, but it doesn’t last forever. The sun comes out, and it’s stronger then the smoke will ever be.

I don’t know who is trying to steal your joy today. Chances are someone is, but don’t let them succeed. It’s a new day, a fresh start and people can only steal your joy if you allow them to do so.

You can steal my photos but not my joy.

You can steal my photos but not my joy.

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Those Simple Breaths

Thanks to Treena and Josh Ditto of Angelic Images for the lovely engagement photo

Thanks to Treena and Josh Ditto of Angelic Images for the lovely engagement photo

It’s been months since I’ve blogged. A first for SimplyContemplating, I know, but thanks everyone for hanging in with me while I road out the joyously painful road of wedding planning, Pintrest projects, and those inevitable last minute panics.

It was worth every second though. Thanks to so many helping hands (special thanks to mom, my incredible bridesmaids and attendants, out of town family and friends, dad, siblings, church family the list goes on) the wedding came together almost magically, and I couldn’t have enjoyed it more. Really, having so many close friends and family there was an incredible gift and my husband and I both felt so blessed.

It’s a bit hard entering the blogging world again after taking a lengthy break. I want to come back with some kind of profound truth or fresh insight to make up for the silence, but all I have are little things, memories, moments, the thoughts of a content traveler picking out a new road.

It has been a couple months of celebration and new beginnings—a new last name, packing and unpacking, road trips, plane tickets, paperwork, and lots of time waiting. But, in the midst of all the big things I have to say some of the little moments have been my favorite. Eating cashews and drinking coke as my husband and I took yet another road trip. Getting lost and learning how to communicate under the stress of traffic and frustration (that’s still a work in progress for me). Watching just about every episode of Monk together and the sadness of reaching the end. Washing dishes, washing the car, and playing cards with my grandparents—all little breaths of life. Pieces of us coming together to make the mundane special. Learning to stop and enjoy the little things because all those little things make life what it is.

I’ve missed blogging. Having people to connect with over the joy of words and a shared life is something that will always be a part of me. Thanks as always for reading and for sharing your moments as well. What have been some of your favorite little moments this year? Don’t forget to stop during the day and simply take a breath. Freeze the scene around you, and soak for a second or two in that moment.

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