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
Politics

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
Insta-Thursday
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

Monday, May 6, 2019

May Sunday Funday

Our weekly vlog:

Last week was dentist trips for everyone, and this week is doctor visits, and we figured out (after having a male dentist and doctor) that Sofia loves all the female staff, and then shuts down around male staff (our Brazilian pediatrician is female). Luckily, they were kind men who waited for her to calm down and adjust (and sit in my lap the whole time). We also loved having my aunt and uncle visit for a week from California (that video will be coming soon).

A week from today (Monday) we drive to Chicago early in the morning (tickets out of Chicago were half the price they were through Indianapolis), then fly to Atlanta, then to Sao Paulo, and then to Recife. Hopefully, by lunch on Tuesday we will be almost home (we live about an hour from the Recife airport). It is a long trip for the little ladies, but we are ready and hoping for the best. Thank you so much for all your prayers, and know that next week's Sunday Funday will probably be a bit late:).

Reads from the Interwebs:
1. Sorry kids, it's not your best life: Yes. So well put.
2. The Enneagram type of the Avengers: confession time--Caid and I are super into superhero movies and shows:). 
3. What to know before you go: Super important! If I had time, I'd love to put together a list like this of things to know before you return as well! A great resource.


Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Two Weeks Sunday Funday

Our weekly vlog:
And we also did our first YouTube live, answering some questions we had been given:) It is NOT 5 minutes or less:

Two weeks guys. Two.

I always step into high gear two weeks before a big transition- finalizing and realistically cutting down my to-do list, trying to think of all the last minute stuff so it doesn’t catch me by surprise (but some things always do). Even my appetite changes.

We have done a good job with hitting all our main goals and living life well for this home assignment. We are excited and ready to return to Brazil.

But what they don’t tell you is that the better you do something- the more you open your heart- the greater the connections and love and vulnerability: the harder it is to leave.

My hardest goodbyes (from Brazil and the USA) are always after the sweetest times.

Not all goodbyes are hard. Sometimes you just know it is time. Sometimes God blesses with this unexpected peace about everything. But just because a goodbye is hard doesn’t mean it is bad. In fact, you could say that most hard goodbyes are because the time together was so good.

And so it is because right now is so good: squishing in time with friends and family and learning and growth...that it makes goodbyes harder.

Thank you for the hard goodbyes. 

Reads from the Interwebs: 
1. After Jim Elliot: I think it is so important to look back and realize anyone (ANYONE) that we have put up on a pedestal shouldn't be there--and if we can't find any faults, or think they are practically perfect, something is missing. And most of them would tell you the same thing (the ones that don't...watch out for them). I mean, just look at the Bible: lots of messed up people. The only one I can think of that wasn't was Daniel, and it makes me wonder sometime. He just seems too perfect sometimes. I know that I personally put way too many missionaries on a pedestal, and that just wasn't healthy. I think we should read--and hope my daughters will--about past missionaries and what God did through them, but I hope they are honest, open looks at all aspects of missionary life. 
2. The true Purpose of Home Assignment: almost done with ours!
3. On World Earth Day: so I missed that it was Earth day last week, but I have been increasingly convicted about how I treat nature and use resources the past couple of years: and I think it is a godly conviction as well as a practical one. I am not talking about feeling all guilty about global warming, I am talking about having a healthy perspective that God created the world, and it is a gift to be used wisely and carefully, not just for my convenience and gain. Unfortunately, I have seen many Christians take a stance that current American consumerism/packaging/way of life isn't something they need to look into and seek the Lord about, but that it is just something made up by the media. God help us all. 
4. Enneagram type and Anger: these articles always get me. And so far, they have always been right.
5. A distant look Back at Missions, part 2: Why (in the past) have missionaries left? So interesting. 

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Easter Sunday Funday

Our weekly vlog:

Our vlog about Easter will be out soon...it takes me a bit of a turn-around these days to get things posted. But, please check out this video about the Easter the kids at Living Stones had! 


Jesus is Risen Indeed! Last Wednesday we had a really great meeting at the Community Church of Greenwood, and had so many questions that later we will be doing a YouTube Live special, answering the rest of the questions about us, Living Stones, and missionary life. We had some dear friends come for the weekend, which was horribly rainy and yucky outside, but fun and warm at the various places we tramped about. Easter was so sunny and special with family and friends and Jesus. 

As the girls get older (especially Sofia), they understand more and more of what is going on: we have been coloring a picture for Lent every morning for the past month and a half, and it was so neat to see how Sofia could understand the Easter story so much better when it was given in small bite sized (coloring) pictures. We have also been preparing the girls for returning to Brazil, to which Sofia said "Oh! I will miss Grandma!" and it made my heart sank. But then she added, "And I will miss my mints!" (that Grandma gives her) And I thought that we might get through this heartache just fine:).

Reads from the Interwebs:
1. When you're sharing Jesus as an Outsider: YES! This makes so much sense! Things are changing in the USA, and while to me, as a missionary, it may even make it feel more like home--to many in the USA it is a scary time, because maybe, just maybe, you are being called to be more of a missionary yourself: "But we can no longer assume agreement about these things. Which means that even if you look the same and speak the same language and are living side by side with your middle class, white American neighbors, if you're a Christian, you are now a cross-cultural missionary. Effective evangelism in America requires that you understand a different worldview." (Is it bad that this makes a little happy?) 
2. What your pastor's sneakers say about their theology: This is a funny look at an important issue. The church of High End put it well: "I hope I would have the good sense never to take the job as a lead pastor where I am paid more than double the salary of the lowest paid full-time church worker. That means if I make $100,000 a year, the full-time church custodian ought to make at least $50,000. If I have benefits, she should too. Churches should set the bar on living wage for all staff." If we, the church, can't figure out this living wage stuff and make it work in real life, how can we (me, I definitely mean me) complain about the government/companies not doing it???
3. Money and missions: Do you have a plan for retirement? I posted this for me. Because no, no we do not. 
4. What it's like to travel when you have a "bad" passport: wow. How have I gone this long without realizing that for "others" the word is "Immigrant" while for me (aka American/European, probably white) the word is "expatriate"? It is important to read articles like this. 
5. Stories of Transracial adoptees: Guys! It is so true: I want to hear the good, happy stories where no one is bitter--100%! But we need to give space and listen to all the stories--even the not so happy...and even bitter ones--like about racism (see story #4, or adoptees, or LGBT pain..,) Redemption begins in telling and listening to stories. 
6. All the Easter Billboards: I love Easter--and took full advantage of two community Easter egg hunts to let my kids get tons of candy. And to visit churches we have never been to--with tons of people we don't know. I love all the open doors and hospitality of churches all over the city, and think that is how Christianity should always look. But, "It is much easier to welcome blurry, romanticized strangers on Easter Sunday than it is to welcome the darkest parts of each other in the weeks and years afterwards. Or, more succinctly: Relationships are hard. Grace is hard. Love-your-neighbor-as-yourself is so hard, especially when you don’t understand your neighbor, and when you’re not sure you even love yourself." 
7. Six R's of successful home assignment: Love this! Our goals, finishing in three weeks, are: 
"Rest

Recoup (family time, self care)
Report to our churches
Remember where we came from (enjoy American culture again)
Raise our support team
Return to the field as capable workers ready for another term of service"
8. Best morning routines for Enneagram types: This is fun (and true)



Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Sunday Funday April

Our weekly vlog:

Caid asked when we had free to get together with some friends and I scrolled through our calendar and said "April 29th. That's the last free night." It's down to that, my friends. Each week is filled with wonderful times, and during morning devotions I ask for grace to be able to enjoy and focus on each thing, without getting overwhelmed with all the other things around it. Many times I do, and sometimes I don't. Still working on it! Some highlights were Thursday morning prayer meeting at WRI and the encouragement we were given, and on Sunday Caid preached and I shared about Brazil and it was beauty and joy for our hearts. You can watch it yourself on a link I posted on Facebook!

Reads from the Interwebs:
1. One read that will change how you think about Immigration: “The child of immigrant parents is supposed to perch on a hyphen, taking only the dose of America he needs to advance in America.”
2. How setting a minimum viable day proved I'm not actually failing all the time: “I can do four things a day.” I said out loud to myself. “I can look after the kids, cook, clean the house, and homeschool. If anything else is added to my day one of those four things will not happen.”
3. Twenty Easter foods around the world: I enjoy things like this! It has Brazil eating Pasoca, which we do, but in my area we eat it all the time, not special for Easter. 
4. A letter to the grandparents of my third culture kid: This article had me sobbing in the bathroom--too close to home and change and all that--my word. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

April Sunday Funday

Our weekly vlog:

We had another lovely week, with one of the most perfect Saturdays ever--Spring in full bloom! I always forget how impressive season changes are (in Brazil it is hot, hot, hot, and rainy for our four seasons). I am suddenly too hot in my coat and boots and have to figure out how to dress for Spring, and then realize I don't have any spring clothes. I ask my husband what the weather is going to be, because it actually matters for what I wear (I live in flip flops in Brazil: they work for sun and rain). Sofia keeps asking if we are done wearing coats now, and keep answering "I don't know Honey." She loves that she has snow boots, rain boots, play shoes, dress shoes, and sandals (again, mostly just sandals in Brazil), and she looks out the window to see what shoes she gets to wear that day.
We got to go cabin camping with my family for the weekend, and it was pretty amazing! (Video coming soon!)

Reads from the Interwebs:
1. How the Rapids showed me Beauty    “Will you still follow me?”
            “Well, yes,” I answered.
            “What if she never walks? Plays soccer? Gets married?”
            A teardrop swelled at the base of my eye.
            “What if I take her home today?”
            Boom! The weight of my fears laid out before me, would I still follow?
            Slowly I answered, “Yes, but please be patient with me.”
2. Lament on the First day of Spring:  "Racial reconciliation isn’t something anyone in the church should be able to choose to be apathetic to. And yet, there are many who believe they don’t have to engage because they aren’t feeling it and weren’t born facing it. It’s a flat-out privilege for anyone to say they aren’t feeling itand it’s not their thing."
4. Yes, I'm Judging you: :"Humans are hard-wired to make judgments. We can say that we are open-minded and accepting and not bigoted until we're blue in the face, but when someone comes along who tries to justify raping a child or stealing our car or owning slaves, we suddenly become very judgmental indeed."
6. Poets around the World printable packet: because apparently April is poetry month!

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Last of March Sunday Funday

Our weekly vlog:

We are heading back to Brazil in six weeks and I am definitely feeling the crunch. There is just so much here (to learn and to buy), and so many options to everything! I put together a list of things we need for ourselves and for ministry, if you would like to be a part of that. We spent a lot of the week trying to consolidate childhood memories/pictures from life and so much stuff that takes up storage while we are in Brazil. I am putting together an Instagram account just for memories (the baseball caught at a game, Sofia's first onesie, our graduation tassels...) to remember/write something about them, and then make a photo book to be able to look at all of them. As the girls grow up, we can take pictures of their best artwork and school projects and add them to the Instagram account--and that way keep things more mobile and less cluttered. It all sounds like a great idea--we will see how it actually works!

Reads from the Interwebs:
1. The early Christians knew how to respond to violence
2. Sitting in the Dust with the disgraced American church
3. TCK lessons: after everyone leaves: I so appreciate the continuing conversation on this!
4. A distant look back at Missions and Attrition: I find these so interesting...it has a bunch of facts and statistics about missionaries.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Update on our Home Assignment

Hey everyone! Now that we are leaving in 6 weeks, I am getting into countdown mode. Our main goals for this home assignment:
1.  Time with family
2. Meet with everyone we can about our ministry and Living Stones
3. Raise the needed funds for ourselves and others
4. Get as much training as possible to do our jobs better.
We are doing well on all of these goals, and here are some surprising extra blessings (besides PEOPLE we love--that is another post!) from this trip:

1. The Gathering Place: located next to the Community Church of Greenwood, they are a wonderful gym and workout place that also has a Tot Spot. They were kind enough to provide us with passes (including childcare), and this has made a HUGE difference to our trip. Not only has this helped us to be healthy, but our girls are old enough now that it is important to have things planned outside the house: and to be regular about it. And I am just ecstatic to be able to workout and SHOWER by myself (the simple joys of moms with young children). This is an unexpected blessing that I didn't even know to ask for!

2. Needing A Place to Stay: This is our first Home Assignment where we haven't stayed with my parents, and I really was nervous and unsure how that would work. But it has actually been an incredible blessing to be in a place of need, and see how God provided, and experience so much kindness from so many! Thank you to Steve and Ann Turner (our first month in the USA), Ferguson family in Connecticut and Wayne in Ohio (our second month), my sister (our 3rd month), and the Jones's (the last 3 months).

3. Aldi and the Library: we so appreciate the quality and convenience of these places--in Indiana, Ohio, and Connecticut.

4. Regular Dates: Caid and I are actually having weekly dates (for the last couple weeks), and it is just really nice and needed. We have grandparents and family that actually WANT and keep ASKING to take our kids off our hands. It is hard having your normal be so far away from family:(.

5. Grandpa Magic: Jessica is not the best sleeper, and we just celebrated THIS MONTH her first sleeping through the whole night, but my dad has magical powers at naptime: when he (and only he) puts her down on the bed and says "Shhhh! Time for bed!" and closes the door, she sighs, and goes directly to sleep (EVERY. SINGLE. TIME). I don't ask why--I am just grateful.

Lastly, here is the list of needs to bring back to Brazil:

1. Personal support: so grateful to be half-way there, but still need $500 monthly support
2. Old(er) phones for ministry leaders (must be unlocked, later models—series 5 or more)
3. 3-6 large suitcases (new or used)
4. Music speakers for outdoor performances (new or used)
5. CD players (100-240v, sturdy for kids, new or used)
6. “Spot it” game ($13 Barns and Nobel)
7. “When I pray for you” by Matt Paul Turner ($12 B&N)
8. 500 Writing Prompts ($10 B&N)
9. The Story of my Life ($7 B&N)
10. Pre-k wipe clean workbook ($10 B&N)
11. “It will be okay” by Lysa Terkeurst ($12 online)
12. “Overturning Tables” by Scott Bessenecker ($18 online)
13. Codenames—PICTURE VERSION ($15 online)
14. Roar: sing and play music DVD ($14 online)
15. Connect 4
16. Bubble concentrate (or ingredients to make it in Brazil)
17. Water balloons
18. Birthday cards
19. First aid kits
20. Facepaint
21. Small toys/prizes/gifts for boys and girls
22. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (used, 4 copies)
23. White Duck tape (2 rolls)

For Living Stones and Teaching English in Ministry (available at the Arts and Education store)
1. Jesus parable posters ($12)
2. Nativity poster ($12)
3. Teach me to pray poster ($3)
4. All about Jesus ($3.50)
5. Birthday posters (need 5, $3.50 each)
6. Writing process, parts of speech, good readers do, be more descriptive, word families, and vowels posters ($3.50 each)
7. Instasnow jar ($13)
8. Dry erase calendar ($3)
9. Dry erase job chart ($2)
10. Sight words placemat ($3)
11. USA map placemat ($3)
12. Money placemat ($3)
13. Opposites, time, money, rhyming flashcards ($4 each)
14. Facial expressions flashcards ($12)
15. Dry erase packets (5 for $12.50)
16. Dry erase roll ($16.50 for 24”x10’)


Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Sunday Funday March

Our weekly vlog:

I think as much as "normal" and "routine" are during a home assignment, we have gotten into the swing of things. Little things like regular nap times (my dad is magical at putting Jessica to sleep) , date times, and food schedules are important, and we (especially Jessica) appreciate it. But then again, I am watching my "to get done before we leave" list grow as our time gets shorter, and that is a bit stressful. But this week we celebrated my nephew's 9th birthday, and the birth of Serenity, my best friend's daughter. Caid had a great opportunity to help out with a basketball clinic, and connect with some cool new people, and I got to share at our women's brunch, and get more ESL experience.

Reads from the Interwebs:
1. Spiritual Growth books by Enneagram type: YES!! Very excited about this;)
2. Is Missionary Work Colonialism? Such a good and important question, and I love how the writer tackles it. I also enjoy the point of the current Colonialism being popular culture through TV and the Internet. I will never forget walking up to the home of one of the Living Stones kids homes (made of mud and sticks) and seeing "Icarly" on their reasonably nice TV. The kids don't have much--but they see, every day, what the rest of the world considers "normal." I also loved the Biblical examples of "Relocators." By the way, have I ever told you about my theory about single mothers being today's widows from the New Testament church?
3. What "Leaving Neverland" reveals about abuse systems: an important read
4. Revisiting Mary and Martha
5. Four ways to make your home abroad cozy and tidy: I love these kinda articles, especially as I get ready to move in Brazil!
6. Toxic truth about Modern Food: an interesting read, as I see how much harder it is to say NO to all kinds of snacks all the time while here in the USA, while I find it much easier in Brazil.
7.  A Quiet Exodus: we need to be reading and talking about this

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Sunday Funday St.Patrick's Day

Our weekly vlog, one was catching up from our time with Thalia:
and the other was from last week's festivities:

Best of Luck to you on St. Patty's Day! For us, it was COOOOOOOLD, especially after being so delightfully warm earlier in the week. We went to the parade with friends and Sofia kept calling it a "Masquerade" because she'd heard that word from Minnie Mouse. Jessica fell asleep in the backpack I had her in, and Sofia kept sneaking all the parade candy into her mouth before I could get it from her into my bag. But a great time was had by all, and I can never resist a time to dress up the girls--although I am getting worse at remembering to actually get pictures of it! 
Thank you to everyone who made Caid's 29th birthday lovely: we appreciate it!

Reads from the Interwebs: 
1. Happy Missionaries: yikes, this was a hard one for me to write about some things I've been thinking about lately
2. Birth Stories: a lighter look at a deep subject (from me)
3. Home: we need more words for this (from me again)
4. One by one: as soon as she started talking about ants, I connected with her
5. Lent, part 2 by Ann Voskamp
6. Upside Down Dependency


Saturday, March 16, 2019

Home

If Eskimos have 20 words for snow, shouldn’t missionaries have at least 4 words for home?

Home = Family. You will always come home to family

Home = Where you spend the most time sleeping. For now, Brazil is home

Home = Where you are currently sleeping. We’ve had 5 different homes in the past two months

Home = Our forever heavenly home. This is why we never really feel quite sure where to call home on this earth

Birth Stories

I think women should write two birth stories: one soon after the experience- as therapy and reflection. But most people won’t want to read that. After a couple of years and laughs and talking and sharing war and awe stories- I think us women should write another birth story. One that has a bit more perspective and humor and less open wound. One where we have our battle scars and realize that our bodies are incredible, fallible, strong, and resilient. A story about how we see the bigger picture and those agonizing hours changed our lives forever.
***

My first birth freaked my body out. My body was trying to figure out what the heck was going on. Somewhere deep inside something knew, and was driving on deep, but the rest of me could never seem to catch my breath- literally. My husband kept telling me to breath and I kept trying to tell him I couldn’t remember how. When one contraction let me rest long enough to talk, I told him “don’t tell me to breathe- just breathe loudly next to me so I can copy you.”
It took almost the whole birth for my body to figure out how to push with the contractions and to finally get that baby out. By the time the baby was ready, I’d had contractions for 24 hours. I’d been in pain every five minutes or less for 15 hours. I was in active labor for 10 hours. I was so exhausted. But I was going to do anything I had to to get that baby out. And I pooped in front of everyone and my vagina was all over the place for like 3-6 men and women, and I didn’t care.
When my baby’s head came out, my husband was shocked because she looked just like him. I was too exhausted to care or push, and so she stayed there- head out, body in, for like 10 more minutes. When the rest of her wiggled out, I was so relieved. Not happy- relieved. Done. Finally. Thank God. The nurse actually had to pick her up out of the water (we were in a birthing pool) and put her on my chest because I forgot about that part. And then there was blood and a bit of scary stuff where my uterus wasn’t contracting and I got a shot and some things but I was too tired to worry much. And then sleep. And I think it was work paying the $5000 bucks for those couple of scary after minutes- and the fact they cleaned up that mess. It was nasty stuff. And no, I didn’t want to save/eat/see my placenta.
I wasn’t scared until we got home with this little creature and I realized I wasn’t sure if I knew how to keep her alive. Caid and I googled a lot of things. Things you don’t think of until you are home alone with a newborn. But we made it. And crazy us- we did it again.

After my first birth, I was sure I could do anything else life threw at me. My body was incredible, and for the first time of my life, I stopped criticizing the parts I didn’t like as much, and gave my body much more grace to recover, relearn, and do life.
My body had it figured out for my second birth. The last couple of months (and she wasn’t born until an hour shy of 42 weeks) of pregnancy was exhausting, and for some reason I couldn’t sleep until 2am or later, with my 2 year old waking up at 6am. But the birth? I rocked it!
When baby #2 finally decided to come, we calmly dropped off our kid at a friend's house and waited in line (we were at the free public hospital this time, not the private pay one). By the time they saw me, I was 7cm dialated, but not in much pain/contractions. But soon after being shown a bed it started, and 8 hours later she was born. I had a doula and a husband who messaged me and breathed next to me (not telling me to breathe, just breathing with me) and we were a great team. I bounced on the ball. I walked around, I showered. I progressed beautifully until the final pushing stage where we got the one birthing pool in the building (thank you Jesus!) for the last two hours.
I focused on the goal- getting baby out. I was loud, I was direct, and while it was just as much pain as the last time, when my baby was born I had enough energy to pick her up and hold her. I even smiled for the picture. I felt like I knew what was going to happen and charged in and took control. It was really powerful.


I was really blessed in both births to have a team of people who helped me succeed. It was my body that was allowed to go at its own pace, and get the job done that it was created to do. I am so grateful to have positive, healthy birth stories, and I love to share them, as birthing was an empowering experience for me, and I hope to encourage others to take charge of their own stories.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Happy Missionaries

Back in February I read THIS, and I haven't stopped thinking about it, so I needed to write about it (that's how it works, right?). The Guiltitude article said, "A poor, burned out or suffering missionary is not more godly than a comfortable, healthy and happy missionary." And that really hit me:

Why don't we want comfortable, healthy, and happy missionaries?

It seems like something we should want, right? But never once have I stated (or even thought) that my goal was to be comfortable or happy (healthy, yes, because it is waaaaaaay too expensive to be unhealthy) as a missionary. Especially the "Comfortable" part. Of course we don't want burned out missionaries, but a little poor and suffering does some good, right? Why do I think this? Why do we (in general) think this?

I can't say that all the missionary biographies I read growing up helped. Not that I think they are bad, or we shouldn't read them, but there are many ways to tell the same story. And I think the missionary biographies that we have should make sure to reflect at least a balance of the 90% (or more) of missionary life (which is much like everyone else's' life) rather than just the 10% (or less) of the amazing, spectacular, God-magic moments. That is another discussion.

The main reason why I think it is hard for us to want comfortable, healthy, and happy missionaries is that us missionary supporters (I am one of those too) are not comfortable, healthy, and happy people. And If I am not comfortable, healthy, and happy, why should the person I am giving my hard earned money be comfortable, healthy and happy? Is that fair?

It gets worse.

If I follow this train of thought down to all of it's ugly honesty, we don't want comfortable, healthy, and happy missionaries because we think that to be a comfortable, healthy, and happy person we need MORE money, and MORE free time (and MORE whatever else). So if my missionary is comfortable, healthy, and happy, it must mean they have more money than me. It must mean they have more free time (and less work) than me. It must mean they have more (fill in the blank) than me: and that's not fair. Someone I support should be sacrificing MORE than me.

Ouch. It literally hurt something in me to type that out.

I haven't thought this through enough to figure out the answers yet, but I am working on it. And I want to thank the amazing people in my life who do not have this problem like I do, and do all they can to make sure I am a comfortable, healthy, and happy missionary: because they actually really desire that for me. Maybe because they have learned for themselves how to be comfortable, healthy, and happy people?

In the end, no supporter can make comfortable, healthy, and happy missionaries: that depends on their  personal relationship with God. But money issues do create a whole world of issues that make life much harder, more uncomfortable, and unhealthy. As missionary supporters--no--as human beings, we need to figure out how to be comfortable, healthy, and happy people through Jesus, and desire that for our missionaries--no--all other human beings.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

March Sunday Funday

Our weekly vlog:

We had a wonderful time with Thalia, Caid's niece (another video to come soon!). It is so important to stop and smell the flowers:).

Reads from the Interwebs: 
3. "On a Plate" Comic: I would have enjoyed just the comic, without all the explanation--and I would make my own comic about the difference of being born in a developing country, or a developed country. 
4. A Very Simple Rule: my sister says this is only true for morning people, but I think it is a great rule (as a morning person)
5. Women's History Month: so this is a thing? I didn't know before, but I loved this Pinterest pin I found (just pretend that May 2017 is March 2019) for Women's history:).


Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Sick Sunday Funday

Our Weekly Vlog:

We were all a bit sickly this week, and didn't even get to go to church this Sunday:(. But we are super happy and excited about having Caid's niece Thalia with us for the week. She decided to spend her week off of work to fly and visit us in Indianapolis from Boston, and we are so happy to have her! We also celebrated John's 19th Birthday, Jessica's first ice cream cone, and Sofia's first time to a trampoline park.

Reads from the Interwebs:
1. Black History Month: I finally wrote something as it was ending...
2. The Sacred Enneagram: I finally got my thoughts together on this
3. Cultural or Christian: along the same train of thought as I was when I wrote "Black History Month"
4. Transition is Complicated. Kind of like Spinach
5. 25 Ways to Tackle Racism

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Black History Month

I haven't officially done anything for Black history month, but I didn't want to let it pass without saying some things, and having some resources available. Especially as my Jamaican, American, Brazilian girls grow up. They may feel connected to Black history or not: but I sure want them to be involved in the discussion.

1. Netflix: I am excited about this new resource for discussion:
2. Blackish: our family enjoys this show, and the conversation it brings:

3. Book: Little Leaders--so excited this book is mine:)

4. Instagram: whitegirllearning read and posted about a book (with quotes!) written by a POC (Person of Color) each day for the month. I appreciate the time and energy she put into it, and her Instagram account in general, but one quote she posted left me undone. And all month, I have returned to this one post: 
"Between the Christianity of this land, and the Christianity of Christ, I recognized the widest possible difference--so wide, that to receive the one as good, pure, and holy, is of necessity to be the enemy of the other. I love the pure, peaceable, and impartial Christianity of Christ: I therefore hate the corrupt, slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of this land. Indeed, I can see no reason, but the most deceitful one, for calling the religion of this land Christianity." Fredrick Douglass, in his book "Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave" 

My first thought was "well of course he thought that, because SLAVERY! Thank God we don't have that today..." But honestly, the evil in the world is the same, and the distance between cultural Christianity and Christ's Christianity, even without the ugly blatant slavery, is still the same. It is an important perspective to hold--as a Christian--that I do not hold to the "Christianity" of this land. For me, it is I think easier for me to see in Brazil, where I am a bit more removed from the culture, and can see clearer the differences between culture and Jesus-following. 

I read many history books growing up that gave me the idea (perhaps just the impression I got on my own?) that America was somehow better because of our Christian heritage (except SLAVERY, which seemed to be skimmed over pretty quickly). Now that slavery is a part of my story, it doesn't go away so quickly, and history doesn't seem so simple.

Now I tell my girls about how we don't know.We don't know how we have the name "Ferguson," and how it traveled from Ireland to Jamaica, and if it was just given to us from a slave owner, or how that happened. We don't know more about great-grandpa Ferguson, because he had to run away after he got a white woman pregnant: we don't know anything more about their story, except thank goodness for Grandma Hudson (the white woman's grandma), who raised Grandpa Ferguson. 

Maybe that is the problem with Black history month: we just don't know. We don't know what to do (or not do) about it as white people. We (all) don't know what to tell our children. And I can only imagine the feeling of loss over all that we don't know that my black friends are experiencing.  


Tuesday, February 26, 2019

The Sacred Enneagram

I finally bit the bullet that everyone was shooting and took an online test or two to find out my enneagram. It is a pretty popular subject right now, but really, this is what got my attention:
But "The Sacred Enneagram" by Christopher L. Heuertz helped me dive deeper into it, after I made my Pinterest board. He has all kinds of good tidbits in it, like "Identity answers the question, "Who am I?" while dignity answers the question, "What am I worth?" and three basic human lies: I am what I have, I am what I do, and I am what other people say or think about me. Also that "Sabbath is for rests, retreats are for reflection, vacations are for recreation, and sabbatical is for renewal."

1. There are nine "Types" and you fall into one more strongly than the others, with a "wing" (one of the numbers next to your main one), and a "strength/virtue" (one you lean towards when you are growing and healthy, which is one of the lines out from your type) and a "stressor/vice" (one you lean towards when you are stressed and unhealthy, which is one of the lines out from your type). The nine are summarized in Heuertz's book as:

Type 1 strives for principled excellence as  moral duty
Type 2 strives for lavish love through self-sacrifice
Type 3 strives for appreciative recognition through curated success
Type 4 strives for the discovery of identity for faithful authenticity
Type 5 strives for decisive clarity through thoughtful conclusions
Type 6 strives for steady consistency through confident loyalty
Type 7 strives for imaginative freedom for inspirational independence
Type 8 strives for impassioned intensity for unfettered autonomy
Type 9 strives for harmonious peace as congruent repose

2. Each Enneagram type also falls into a section and a triad. 8,9,1 is gut/body/instinctive prone to anger, 2,3,4 is the heart/feeling prone to shame, and 5,6,7 is the head/thinking section prone to fear. 8,2,5 are relationists, 9,3,6 are pragmatists, and 1, 4,7 are idealists.
Heuertz's book then goes on to say that those in the Gut/body section need to face the lie that they are what they do. They need to surrender power and control to God, and to be still in prayer to best hear from God. Those in the heart/emotion section need to face the lie that they are what others think or say about them, surrender affection and esteem, and have solitude in prayer to best hear from God. Lastly, those in the head/mind section need to face the lie that they are what they have, surrender security and survival, and be silent in prayer to hear from God.
In the Idealist triad, REST is very important to connect to God. In the Relationist triad, CONSENT is very important to connect to God, and in the Pragmatic triad, ENGAGEMENT is very important in connecting to God

3. I found this very practical for myself (although I still find myself wondering if maybe I am a different one?) especially for knowing my weaknesses and what to work on. I also really loved it in talking to other people: "What's your type? Oh! you are Elastagirl for Disney Enneagram!" It creates a common ground when you've both learn specific vocabulary. And lastly, I really liked this application:
I made sure to copy it down for my husband's enneagram type :). We also recently did the test on howwelove.com which identifies ways we have been wounded in the past, and how it affects how we love each other. It was also, like the enneagram, a good tool for communication and healing.