Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Sunday Funday June

Our weekly vlog:

When I talked to my family this Sunday, my dad said "Does the government pay for all those holidays? You have had holidays every week for the past three weeks!" (St. Antonio: June 13, Corpus Christi: June 20, and Sao Joao: June 24) This was our vlog from last year around this time:
Here is a video from three years ago about Sao Joao, for you to know a bit more:

Our regular schedule has been off, but it has been a good time for our family together, and getting ready for the short term missions trips coming this year. Sofia was dancing around the house, chanting "English camp is coming!" last week, and I know all the other kids at the International school are just as excited for this fun time. 

Reads from the Interwebs:
1. What Makes you a Great Dad: Musings from Ann Voskamp about Father's Day, and basically I am waiting to celebrate it until Brazil does in August--that is how I organized holidays this year (because you have to organize them or celebrate some twice, which sometimes you just don't have the energy for).
2. Expatriate, Immigrant, Racist? Answering some definition questions I had: " Immigrants have an intention to stay, for the expatriates this intention isn’t mentioned and isn’t clear."
3. How to Welcome her back: "For you, her reentry is an event you’ve been waiting for. It’s here. It’s over. It’s time to continue your daily rhythms of life. For her, it’s a marathon and she’s barely at the halfway mark. She is staggering in intense, complex, conflicting emotions. Exhausted by the logistical and emotional fatigue of farewells and deluge of decisions, her life is in upheaval."
4. Burnout Cure: "So there is this rest rhythm — even 5 minutes in the middle of the day to: Look up into the limbs of a tree and stretch out your own arms and breathe in deep. The Japanese call it “forest bathing.”
5. For Those who Don't Belong: "Could it be that this is a feeling common to those who reside in the margins? Are there places where someone can feel accepted, perhaps because compassion is offered and empathy is freely given, and yet still not feel a sense of belonging? How do we determine that we are not alone? Storytelling.
We can break the cycle of loneliness and the sense that we do not belong when we take the time to share our stories and listen—genuinely listen—to the stories of others." 

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

No Father's Day Sunday Funday

The Holidays are all messed up again! Valentine's Day was June 12, June 13th was a local holiday (with no school) for St. Anthony Day, and Father's day isn't until the second Sunday in August. Our weekly vlog was our awesome couple's dinner:
Having a surprise (to us) holiday on June 13th was a really great reset for our family, and a time to snuggle in our home with lots and lots of rain! It was cold enough that Sofia wanted to wear a sweater (for about 5 minutes), and Caid even put on pants (by cold, I mean like 70 degrees). I (Rachel) really loved getting to do a special English lesson on Valentine's day (how it is the same and how it is different from Brazilian boyfriend/girlfriend day) with candy and games at all the Living Stone's programs and at the Trash dump community. We also got to celebrate lots of birthdays at Living Stones--right before most of the programs are ending for winter break (Cajueiro Claro's break isn't until later).

Reads from the Interwebs:
1. Even Jesus had a Boat: "“Ok, this is what life is like there. You can’t change all the stuff happening around you. So what can you change to help you continue living there?” asked my counselor friend." (So for us, the title would be "Even Jesus had Air Conditioning")
2. Inner Endings: “All endings require inner work.” – Emotionally Healthy Leader by Peter Scazzero
3. What did I ever do to deserve this blue passport? "All because God put my soul into the body of a person who happened to be born on US soil. That's it. There is nothing else differentiating me from the soul of the Honduran woman holding desperately onto her baby with one hand and the top of a moving train with the other. I am not better than her. I am not more valuable than her. I have not worked harder than her. There's nothing I have done that makes me deserve that blue passport more than her."
4. Beauty of Biracial Belonging: "true belonging can only be preceded by true acceptance. Acceptance can only be acquired when we become vulnerable enough to share our lives with others."
5.What the sustainable movement is missing about privilege: SO IMPORTANT.
6. Jesus Storybook Bible in 38 Languages: one of my favorites--I NEED this in Portuguese! Like 5 copies at least.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Namorados Sunday Funday

Our weekly vlog:
Super excited to finally get to see what God is doing in Feira Nova! We had a lovely week celebrating Valentine's Day! Let me explain for you: USA Valentine's Day is February 14th, but in Brazil, because Carnaval is such a big deal (and is sometimes right around February 14th), they decided to celebrate their version of Valentine's Day on June 12th instead. But it is called "Dia dos Namorados" which is "Boyfriend/girlfriend day." After our Valentine's Day in the USA, I bought a bunch of candy and cards to bring and show all the Living Stones kids a bit of what it is like to celebrate in the USA, and how it isn't just about boyfriends and girlfriends. Caid and I got to have a special date, as well as the annual couple's dinner at church, which is put on by all the single ladies:
(All the single ladies at Cajueiro Claro)
(It's grape juice, guys)

No reads from the Internet this week, guys...nothing really stood out. But I do hope you have a wonderful week! As far as my social media progress, I think I am really appreciating using each app only one day a week, and it makes my scrolling intentional and much more about commenting and responding to people, rather than just aimlessly "checking." God bless you!

Monday, June 3, 2019

June Sunday Funday

Our weekly vlog:

Last week we had our first Taco Tuesday hosted at the blue house, and I got to visit Feira Nova for the first time. We are really excited about some special plans at the International school, and Caid and I were really impressed with "Shazam!" It was a really great movie! I am working on a spiral garden and composting (look at all that adulting:)), and Caid is loving the keyboard we were able to bring from the USA, working on writing songs, and voice lessons, as he scouts out future choir members.

Reads from the Interwebs:
1. Mad is not our only choice: "Something clicked for me. "Honey," I said, "I just realized something. I think that sometimes you choose feeling mad over feeling bad. You choose mad because that's a more comfortable emotion than feeling sad or guilty. It's really hard to admit when we do something wrong, and it's a lot easier to be mad at someone who is mad back at you."
2. When life cracks your heart: “I screamed at the heavens, demanding a different answer, a second chance, to go back, to do it over, do it better, but instead I began living a life I didn’t choose.”
3. Black hair school for adoptive parents: Love this! My hair journey is on Instagram with #2girlsncurls. "As an African American woman herself, Swint understands how important hair is to black culture, referring to our hair as “our crown” and additionally making mention to the role that hair plays in overall self-esteem, even at a young age. “When you feel good about how you look, that propels you into the world as a productive citizen.” Swint gets it and she’s making sure that parents of transracial families all over the country have the necessary resources and understand that, too."
4. Subversive Mother's Day: " Charity alleviates the effects of poverty – treating diarrhea in milk-powder-fed babies for example. While justice seeks to eliminate the root causes of that sickness – in this case misleading corporate advertising and a lack of access to clean water for all.  We need BOTH charity (or mercy) and justice.But at its worst, charity becomes a substitute for justice, when it should merely be a stop-gap measure:"

God bless you, and may you have a lovely week!

Monday, May 27, 2019

Sunday Funday May

Our weekly vlog:
We feel pretty settled in now (and hopefully done with the stomach flu). Sofia is doing well at all day preschool, and Jessica is getting used to being an only child during the day. She has started singing a lot--nothing understandable about it--but definitely singing, and it brings us all joy as we see her step a bit outside of her introverted self.
We are slowly getting ourselves back into things at Living Stones, school, church, and PPC (our partners at the trash dump) as well as finding a gym, starting a garden, and those kind of things. We are excited to restart the beloved Taco Tuesdays tomorrow, and get to know some new team members here in Brazil. I have enjoyed my first week of restricting social media (just on certain days), although mostly it has just freed me up to Pinterest house organizing things instead (perhaps I should make one Pinterest day a week?).

Reads from the Interwebs:
1. The Holy Post on Abortion: If you haven't heard the Holy Post Podcast, I recommend it (and I am just getting into podcasts), and if you've been wondering about abortion policies going around--please check this out--it was a blessing to me personally.
2. Singleness and the commitment to Community: I loved the "Single" theme at Velvet Ashes! As someone who loved and enjoyed her single years, I still connect and pass on when I see good things written about it. Finding my community while single in Brazil made all the difference, and it was truly a taste of heaven.
3. Hard Times? "Suffering is an invitation to stop pretending. Suffering in an invitation to stop avoiding. Suffering is an invitation to let go of control. Suffering is an invitation to pour out our hearts. Suffering is an invitation to lament to God."
4. Dear Single Girl: YES! As someone who was a single missionary for 10 years, and now a married one for 5, I have seen my marital status open doors I never imagined in ministry--but also close other ones I needed to grieve and let go of. Go live your calling, your passion, your joy!
5. The Bible Project: we've been enjoying watching these, and it was especially encouraging to me this weekend as I was pretty sick Saturday and Sunday.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

The Holy Post on Abortion

I have been listening to the podcast called "The Holy Post" for a couple months, and have really enjoyed it--it has the guy from Veggie Tales, is witty, and covers current topics in a healthy way. Today I drove to Lagoa de Itaenga Living Stones (for the first time by myself) and was impressed enough by how they covered the abortion topic that I listened to it twice. I strongly suggest that you listen yourself to episode 352: Athleisure, Abortion, and Ancient Squirrels with Mike Nawrocki. I will summarize/quote the best parts about abortion (the bold parts are my thoughts):

"If you could reduce significantly the amount of abortions, without overturning Row v. Wade OR overturn Row v. Wade and have no change in the number of abortions--which would you pick? Abortion was not invented in 1973, it can't be undone with a court ruling."

What will undo abortions is people (the church) coming along side women before they ever get to an abortion clinic--and being there still after she leaves: no matter what choice she made inside.

"After the Civil War, reconstruction totally failed--why? Because at the end of the day, they (many Christian abolitionists) weren't against racism, they were just against slavery. My concern is that they (many Christian conservatives) will fight to overturn Row v. Wade and may succeed, just to end up seeing the abortion rate go up. Because at the end of the day, do they care about helping women who are pregnant, or just about getting evil legislation off the books?"

Are we just trying to get the government to do the work for us (on abortion), because it is easier than the actual hard work of relationships and adoption and loving hurting and broken people? 

"Around 25% of abortions are done by pill or injection (50% in Europe). All these women have to do is go online and buy this drug and induce an abortion. Women have always had ways of aborting unwanted pregnancies and will continue no matter what is overturned. As the church, if we believe in the sanctity of life and care about these women, then we need a holistic response, not just a political one."

With politics, I think it is important to remember that they (the government) aren't going to solve all the problems, no matter how much they end up voting like you wanted them to. God chose us Christians to be the agents of change, and He chose to work through the local church (like it or not). 

We need to find many different ways to reduce abortions, protect women, and protect babies. I am against abortion (just as I am against murder), and think it should not be done (just like murder), and should be illegal (just like murder). But, there are many other things that need to be done (over the counter cheap birth control, more male accountability, sex education...) before, during, and (perhaps?) after Row v. Wade.

Here are four other abortion/politics blogs from the past:
3 Things I learned from the Women's March on Washington
Never Ever
Stop Calling your Congressman and Start Making Relationships

In closing, I am posting from Seth Woods (I've never met him, it is a Facebook post that a friend posted, but I felt too intimidated to repost on Facebook because I am just not ready for that drama):

I need to talk to my conservative/Christian friends and family for a minute. About abortion.
First: if you hold the personal belief or conviction that abortion is wrong, is a sin, is against God's will... That is absolutely okay, and understandable. There are so many reasons to feel this way, not just from a theological/religious standpoint, but from personal experiences, hopes, desires, etc. Your belief about where you stand on the moral/ethical merits of abortion are yours to have, to cherish, to speak about, to share. They are your human rights and your constitutional rights in our country.
Second: America is not a Christian nation. It is not a nation for Christians. It is a nation for all. I know this can be genuinely hard to accept. I grew up in the church too. We are sold this idea of a Christian nation, one nation under God. That was never what we had. What we have is a nation founded on the idea of liberty and equality, with the men drafting the documents having the amazing foresight to make the language broader than their own beliefs about equality (which many of them felt only applied to white landowning men). Thank God! What they gave us was so much greater than their own biases. They gave us room to grow in our understanding of equality and freedom and mutual cooperation. And so all faiths are welcome here. And that is beautiful.
Third: Knowing and hopefully accepting that, we can recognize that there are large portions of our fellow Americans who are not Christian. Imagine a Jewish senator putting forth a bill that would require every male -infant, child, and adult - to be circumcised. Or a Muslim governor signing a bill into law that states all citizens must pray five times a day on their prayer mats. You would be very understandably (and as far as the constitution goes, rightly) upset over someone trying to legislate their beliefs onto your lives and bodies...
Four: Your politicians are using you. They are using your deeply held spiritual and emotional beliefs about abortion to justify racial, gender, and class inequality. The men pushing these laws are concerned with power, not with the unborn. There are documented cases of GOP "pro-life" politicians who are pushing legislation like this with one hand and with the other hand are encouraging their secret girlfriends to terminate their very secret and unwanted pregnancies. For you, this issue is about speaking up for what you believe. For many many of the politicians, it is about feeding their own personal agendas and increasing their power. YOU GIVE THEM THAT POWER. And they are grossly abusing it, not to the glory of God. Please stop letting them use you to control people.
Five: this is pretty core, and I'm not sure how to say it, so forgive me my ineloquence here. If you want to see a world without abortion, you need to work to create a world that doesn't need abortion. That world cannot be legislated into being. That was never the job of the church anyway - to legislate their way to the kingdom of god? Ugh. You may want to see a world that didn't drink alcohol - how did prohibition work out? No more drunks? No. You cannot legislate morality. You can work toward it though. I love that you love the unborn. I love that you have a heart that feels that. Please have a heart for those who are already born as well. Please be truly pro-life, and take care of women instead of criminalizing them. A world that didn't need abortions would be one where birth control was extremely affordable and available, where young people everywhere were well educated about sex. It would look like accepting that abstinence is not the only choice that young people are going to make - "I believe sex is supposed to be saved till marriage, however, if you choose to have sex before marriage, as many of you will, there are things that are very important for you to know" is a totally acceptable way to talk about your beliefs AND the facts of life with your kids.
You are NEVER going to get close to having a world where people don't have sex unless they are married. TRUST ME. That will never happen. You absolutely can work toward a realistic world where we take care of people, where we help and educate and love people in a way where the number of unwanted pregnancies declines drastically. Do you want a world where people aren't allowed to get abortions? Or do you want a world where people dont need to get abortions, where it's not even a question or an issue that they have to face, because they have been equipped with the tools to navigate sex and relationships and personal choices with maturity and safety and love? And look, I haven't even brought up the very very troubling issue of rape, incest, abuse. And real quick on that: you CANNOT make decisions like that for another person. YOU CANNOT DO THAT. A person who has been abused needs to have our support, our ear, our compassion, and if they need assistance or advice or comfort or a friend then we can be that. What we can't do is make a life altering decision for them after they have already experienced a traumatic life altering assault. We shouldn't be making those decisions for anyone (just like we shouldn't have the legal ability to tell anyone else whether or not to drink, or to pray, or to get circumcised).
There's so much more. So much. And it all needs to be said - not just said but talked about. But here's what I want to end this with: WE NEED YOU. We need each other. We have become so divided from each other, and so much of that is because we rely on our intermediaries: the media, the politicians, the social media algorithms. But we are never going to go anywhere unless we come together to figure this out. No matter what you believe this issue really is (a woman's issue, a moral issue), it is not JUST that. Left and Right. It is multifaceted, it is personal, and there are real people on both sides. And so I am saying to you my conservative christian pro-life friends: we need you. We need you to stop letting your politicians use you. We need you to BE THE BODY OF CHRIST to people. Not because we believe what you believe, but because we could use some very Christ-like people right now. Who challenge the powerful and who love people, not judge them, not further abuse them, not investigate them after they have miscarried a pregnancy.
We are never all going to believe the same things. But we do not have to be enemies, we do not have be opposed. I get that this sounds crazy, but we need to work together to build that world where people are loved and safe, where humans have freedom to make choices, and we have equipped them out of love and with love. Please work with us to make that world where women are not put in a position to need an abortion. Our women are amazing and powerful and inspiring, and if we could make a world where they are not always having to fight to be heard or respected or taken seriously, then I think we would all be blown away by what they could accomplish for the world.
Thanks for reading this. It was written out of respect and love and with an open heart. If you are reading this, it is because I love you. Thanks.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Two Weeks of Sunday Fundays

Last week I was out of commission as far as vlogging goes, as we were changing continents as well as moving houses, but here are two vlogs to catch you up:

our next vlog, coming out this week, will have our trip to Brazil, moving houses, and Sofia's first (full) day of preschool! 

We are all doing well, thank you! Jessica hated flying, and let everyone on the plane know it, but has actually settled in quite well (considering how much she doesn't like change). Sofia has told everyone she has forgotten Portuguese, but still responds to everything in both languages. Caid has his air conditioners!!!! And I really enjoy the feeling of getting things done--and moving/unpacking has been a challenge as well as quite rewarding. 

We had a lovely last week with family and friends, and then Mother's Day with my mom before we flew back to Brazil. I am a pre-griever (Caid is a right-as-it-happens griver, and I am not sure what the girls are yet--perhaps Jessie is a post-griever?) so most of my angst is dealt with before leaving happens, as my practical self then pops out and says, "Let's getter done." But as we flew into Recife and I saw around the area we live from the sky, my heart jumped once again, and I wondered anew at this amazing love that God put in me for this country. 

Especially as we deal with all this change in our life, I have felt God calling me to more responsible use of social media. For me it is a wonderful tool that I love, but parts of it can become just scrolling through, which often ends up wasteful. I am working on being more intentional and focusing on something special each day--and only using my regular social medial sites once a week (so if I don't respond right away, you know why: but text, email, messenger, and whatsapp are all still on). To help me remember, I am trying: 
Make-it-up Monday (catch-up day)
Taco Tuesday (fellowship with food day)
Worship Wednesday
Facebook Friday
Snapchat Saturday 

I will let you know how it goes:)

Reads from the Interwebs:
1. Tear down a fence and build a bench
2. Hard goodbyes, sweet hellos: perfect timing for this one!
3. Tips for the tightrope of social media: inspiration for my above practicing of intentional days
4. Dear mom of littles...
5. 15 things I want to tell graduating third culture kids
6. Don't look down: an interesting perspective