Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Puerto Rico has been better than I could have imagined in many ways. It has also been challenging for the kids. Everything is unfamiliar, they are short on sleep, long on exercise (walking miles every day), having to spend long amounts of time waiting in restaurants and other places, and getting lots of their allergens. It's enough to wear on any kid's behavior, and certainly on our kidlets.

C' know you wanna laugh, too!
Joelito had already started through the potty-talk phase, and this trip brought it to the forefront at embarrassing times, such as in the middle of a restaurant. Worse, I was in the no-man's-land of trying to decide exactly what my embarrassment-acceptability quotient was. You've probably been there. It's that deadly place where you are certain that everyone around you is judging you and your children for their behavior, and you feel a need to come down harder than you normally would for your own pride's sake.

The truth is, having my three-year-old randomly interject the word "caca" into conversation doesn't normally bother me too much. Sometimes I even find it funny. But when we are in the fishbowl of group travel, my standards started to shift. I didn't want to get grouchy over something that I normally would ignore, particularly when I was already aware of the stress my children were under.

Then I remembered the tactic from Playful Parenting by Lawrence Cohen that suggests giving them a nonsense word to get a reaction. So, I whispered to Joel that whatever he said, not to say "snoogle-woogles", or even worse, "snoggle-woggles". He could tell by the way I acted that it was a game, not a serious don't-do-this, and he played along beautifully. Each time he blurted it out, I would feign shock and horror, and make a production of looking around to see if anyone heard. He giggled hysterically. He has pretty much forgotten any other references, and delights in waiting till things are very quiet to stage-whisper, "snoogle-woogles". If anyone notices, they smile at his obvious delight rather than raising their eyebrows at his unacceptable language. It's pretty cute. And while I was always taught that even euphemisms are not good to say, I think the next time I get really, really mad, I might just let drop a "snoogle-woogles" myself. Maybe even a "snoggle-woggles".

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful

Puerto Rico has been amazing! We are already excited about next year. So far, nearly all that we have seen has been beautiful, so there isn't much ugly, but here is the breakdown for the other categories:

The Good: The hotel. It is really nice, and the staff is super-friendly. The kids love the pool and hot tub, we have a nice king bed and the AC is very strong. The weather. It is about 15 degrees cooler here than it is at home. Nice breezes. Just warm enough to appreciate the beach. The food. Oh, the food. Mofongo, which is the ultimate comfort food. It is mashed yucca or plantains with garlic, filled with your choice of steak, chicken or seafood, and topped with an awesome criollo sauce. As a kid, I adored mashed potatoes with lots of gravy and roast beef--this is similar, but even better. The coffee--what more needs to be said? Dairy-free passion fruit sorbet. MMmmmmmmmmm. The adventure: today the kids hiked through the rainforest (el Yunque) and swam in waterfalls. They love the beach and were begging to live here forever.

The Bad: All three kids have had hives and an assortment of other allergic reactions, part of the hazards of eating out every meal with their allergies. Elena has been a little congested, and vomited 8 times today. :( We were on a twisty road, and we are hoping that it was just motion sickness. With the activities during the day and lectures or exams in the evenings, as well as the numbers in our group and the culture here, dinner doesn't finish till late. Last night, we got in around 11:00PM. And naps are impossible. So, we have some exhausted little kidlets, and it is hard to help them get all the rest that they need. They've coped well with all the changes, but are very sad that Carlos has been sleeping in the sofa bed because of the lack of room. They are very concerned that he might be sad or lonely or scared. Joelito talks about it every night. He came up with a solution, though: We need to turn the TV to Iron Man, and then, we can break the glass so that Iron Man can come out of the TV and protect Daddy! :)

The Beautiful: Everything, really. There are flowers everywhere, the gorgeous water. The smiles on the faces of the kids. The old forts, hundreds of years old (the US is such a young country). Inside the Capitol building here, they have gorgeous mosaics on the ceiling of women personifying Wisdom, Health, Justice, etc. Most of them are bountifully endowed and topless. Joel looked up and his mouth dropped open, and he said, "Mami, I bet they could give me LOTS of leche!" Last night, he offered to nurse Elena, but warned her that his leche (breasts and milk are interchangeable in his mind) was very small, "like a mouse. Or more like a pebble. Not much would come out." She declined.

We have several days left here, much to our delight, and then several days at Disneyworld. Wonderful fun, and I am so, so grateful for the opportunities, but it will be nice to be home again, too.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

See you soon!

This summer has already been a frenzy of activity, and it is speeding up again. Tomorrow we leave for Puerto Rico, and we are stopping by Disneyworld on the way home! I've got an unending to-do list that is far more than is likely to be accomplished today, but I'm very excited about all the fun we will have.

I wanted to have some meaningful post to leave up here, but my brain is too far into auto-pilot mode to come up with much. That's OK. What I do hope all of you remember is that you were created by God. You are a treasure. He delights in your personality, even in the parts that you think are quirky, weird, or just embarrassing. He loves you. He likes you. He wants you. You know that expression that a new mom gets with her baby? He loves you like that. He wants to be with you for all eternity, because even a lifetime with you is not enough for Him. He knows you inside and out, and He chooses you. He has never doubted that you are worth loving, no matter what the cost. Can you hear His love-whispers to you? Snuggle close, and feel Him breathe on you. You are loved.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Isaac and the Rest of the Story (again)

Another recycled post here. At least 'tis the season for reruns, right? Thinking today about the sacrifices made for our country made this seem appropriate. Faith and courage grow out of trust and a love that believes the beloved is worth any price.

Isaac's sacrifice--the rest of the story

We are all familiar with the story of Abraham and Isaac. Isaac was the beloved, long-awaited miracle child. God asked Abraham to sacrifice his precious son, but just before the knife fell intervened and told Abe not to go through with it. As a parent, my stomach churns at the mere thought of losing one of my children. But I wonder about the rest of the story.

Did Sarah know what was going on? Did God or Abraham talk to her about this? If so, what were her thoughts and feelings? She was obviously a protective mother--what went through her mind and heart when she heard about this sacrifice? Did Abraham trust her enough to talk to her about it? Did she trust God enough to agree to it?

Perhaps even more importantly, why did Isaac go along with it? Abraham was very old--surely if young, strong Isaac had resisted, he could have escaped. Why did he allow Abraham to bind him and lay him on the altar?

It is possible, of course, that God somehow paralyzed him, or that Abraham tricked him into being bound and helpless. But, somehow, I don't think so. I believe that Isaac trusted God and his father enough to voluntarily agree to the sacrifice. And that leads me to wonder how that trust and faith were built through the years. Am I helping my children to know God in such a way that they will choose to give their lives to Him? I may never get the rest of the details of Isaac's side of the story, but I hope to see my children learn to love and trust God so much that they gladly lay their lives down as a living sacrifice.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Recycled--Shame off you!

I have been so crazily busy the last few days that I haven't had much time for my blog. And, in all honesty, my mind has been on auto-pilot just doing the next thing to get done. So I thought I would recycle a few of my early posts, back from when I first started the blog almost a year ago. I'll have some new material, and some pics, soon!

As I prayed this week about what to share, the one thing that kept coming was, “Tell them I love them”. I am embarrassed to say that my first response was almost to write it off. I mean, we all know that already, right? It is the first thing that we learn as believers—Jesus loves me. But the more I listened, the more I realized how easy it is for us to lose that message. Somehow, it gets watered down in our minds to mean “Jesus tolerates me”. Am I the only one guilty of this?

I look at the deep love I have for my husband and children, and the delight I have in them, yet it is so easy to doubt that God delights in me. I don’t doubt that He has forgiven me, but for some reason, a part of me expects Him to look at me with…I don’t know…disappointment? Resignation? As though loving me is merely an obligation on His part.

The good news is, the Bible paints a very different picture of His love for us. It is passionate, joyful, aching for intimacy with us!

“The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” Zeph. 3:17. Imagine that—the King of the Universe is so delighted with you that He sings about it! One version says that He shouts for joy!

He wants us. He wants to be close to us. And I think that most of us long to be closer to Him. What impedes us? Sin, of course, but I think that often it is not the sin itself, but the shame. We give ourselves to Him and receive freedom and forgiveness, but we don’t always give our shame to Him. We hold onto it, replay things in our minds, and try to “punish” ourselves with reminders of how we have fallen short. And I think that breaks His heart.

He knows everything, right? So, He knew everything about us, all the mistakes we would make, all the faults, and He still decided that WE WERE WORTH LOVING. He isn’t disappointed in us, because to be disappointed, you have to expect something else.

Obviously, He wants us to be free from sin. Romans 6 makes it clear that we are no longer to be in bondage to sin. But it is interesting to me that after that is dealt with, Romans 8 goes on to remind us that there is no longer any condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.

Ironically, sometimes our very efforts to become closer to God are the source of our shame. Growing up, I would make all these promises to spend x amount of time praying, reading my Bible etc. The days that I didn’t reach my goal I felt so guilty. I still believe that those disciplines are important, but they aren’t my goal—the goal is spending time with Him. I’ve discovered the joy and intimacy of doing nothing with God. Just as some of my favorite moments with Carlos aren’t always about having deep discussions, but just snuggling close on the couch while I read and he watches TV or whatever. There is an underlying awareness of the other’s presence that makes us both smile inside.

God loves us. He really, deeply passionately loves us. He enjoys us. And He longs for us to let go of our shame, and step forward as His bride, radiant and beautiful in His eyes. “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.” Jer. 31:3. I hope that this week you will be filled with the sense of His presence throughout your day, that you will let go of any shame, and revel in His song over you.