Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A little gray . . .

As I left to retrieve my son's water bottle from the car during a break at his sport's practice yesterday, I overheard his friend ask, "Is that your grandma?"

My first thought went to my increasing gray hairs that cannot be hidden at 38 years of age.  Should I dye my hair to keep from being asked that question in the future?  You know, I could let the comment take seed and fester, prompting me to take action, make a rash decision.  Nah.  I've done the hair coloring thing in the past.  Not good experiences for me, although I know lots of people who do it and love the results.  I guess I should get used to the question.  But was that why he asked it?

His question could have been prompted by my English conversation in a Spanish-speaking country.  It also could have been the result of his own experiences - maybe his own grandparents are the ones who take him to practice.  He's an 8 year old kid, maybe he was just making conversation.  We're new to the school, after all.  Whatever the case, I decided to not let it bother me and smiled ever so slightly as I continued on my way to the car.

It made me think of how we are perceived in other situations.  Sometimes people ask their question out loud, other times they keep it to themselves, yet either way an opinion is formed.  Why do they ask it?  We may never know.  But, more importantly, how do we respond?  How do I respond?  I hope that my initial response is not defensive or sarcastic.  That could stop the conversation before it has even begun.  I love the Scripture in Romans that encourages us in this regard:

"If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." (12:18)

I think most of the time, it is possible.

Lord, help me to keep the lines of communication open.  I don't want to let the "little stuff" get under my skin and keep me from being a potential witness for You.  May my response to all those I come in contact with point to You and away from myself. Amen.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A New Song

As I was getting ready for the evening, I heard these lyrics coming from the main bathroom "I want to know you more so I can love you . . .."  But these words weren't coming from the radio or a stereo or an MP3 device.  It was our 9 year old's own song of love to his Lord.  As I picked up my Bible (on my cell phone) I began my reading for the day.  It just happened to be Psalm 98.  It begins "Sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things . . .."  

How good you are, Lord, to remind us of your Word, both written and in action.

With some church friends at the zoo

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The not-so-routine

March 12, 2012
I felt like writing all evening, but housework and family kept me pretty busy. I've also been wanting to write about the idea of “life together” for awhile now. I will try to tie that idea into what I'm sharing.  
Circumstances today left me with no vehicle to pick up the kids from school. I got a call from my Hubby saying that his meeting plans had taken a different turn and he wouldn't be home until later today. That is just how things go sometimes in Latin America (and probably all around the world!). Mondays, for us, are a bit trickier because there are some time restraints built into our schedule. One child stays after school for one activity, the other for sports, and the first then has a music lesson soon afterward. This “doable” schedule becomes complicated when one has to rely on public transportation, however.  
But, I had done the routine before: catching the combi, walking 10 minutes from where it let me off to the kids' school, hanging out until their activities were over, catching the bus with my kids, then walking the 4 blocks back to the house with them (in the hot, hot sun).
When I am forced out of my comfortable (air conditioned!) SUV, I see and experience more of life here. I waited for the combi. I hung on for dear life once I got inside the combi and sat so close to the strangers with me that it would be considered unacceptable on a park bench and a sin if we were in a church pew.

While hanging out at school, there is often time for conversation. Today I found out that a family is here because of the Dad being “let go,” choosing to use their savings and this time off to engage in learning another culture and language.

On the way home from school, taking the bus, I was able to think and not have to concentrate on the traffic or other drivers. Although, the large Guns'n'Roses sticker and the Jesus-hanging-on-the-cross fixture at the front of the bus were a bit odd and distracting.

As we walked the few blocks from the bus stop, we saw an old friend and found out that my other friend gets her hair cut 2 blocks from my house.

Later, as I walked my son to his music lesson, I realized I had no meat for dinner, nothing prepared or even planned except a pot of black beans. On the way back to the house I noticed the menu at the tienda between the music school and my house. Would they have anything left? It was past the usual time of comida. 
I grabbed an eco bag, a few plastic containers, and some money from the house and headed back to our little local convenience store. They had pollo asado left – that would be perfect. While I was waiting for the owner to grill the 2 legs and thighs, I met another neighbor who lives around the corner from us, talked with the owners about the Mayan language and learned a few words (ni – nose, hich – to tie tightly, ich – eyes OR two people that always hang out together). No wonder people say that the English and Mayan languages have common sounds (ni-knee, hich-hitch, ich-itch). Very interesting stuff. The one owner wrote down both their names and the number of their tienda and told me I could call “sin compromiso” to find out the daily menu. I had been there several times before, for this-and-that, but never bought a meal. I thanked them and left with my 42 peso chicken, 12 peso notebook (which I remembered my daughter needed for math), and 2 lemons (for a peso a piece) thinking, not bad for a last minute plan!

I wish I could say that I have experiences like this all the time – lots of various human contact and conversation. But, the truth is, it only happens when I break out of my routine and put my own culture aside. I like the interacting, the walking, the unknown, even. But it all takes lots more time. Sometimes I have it. Sometimes I don't. I have also been ingrained with lot of independent thoughts – how to get stuff done on my own. I'm capable, right? And yet, I feel that I'm lacking that aspect of “life together” - sharing in life with community – depending on others and allowing them to depend on me. I haven't figured out how exactly to go about this, yet, but I think it begins by incorporating it more and more into my routine.
Lord, help me put away some of my own “traditions” for more of a community mindset. And may it build Your kingdom.
Image: luigi diamanti /

Friday, February 24, 2012

Another blog site

You may have seen my previous post regarding Lent and my decision to nix the white flour and sugar.  Since this relates more to eating or "not eating", as the case may be, I think that a better place to post might be a health-related blog.  So, since I have one on the SparkPeople site, I will be posting there as my experiences relate to this season of Lent.  If there are family or spiritual issues, however, I will try to post them here.
Also, my brother-in-law has also decided to participate in his own way during the Lent season.  You may enjoy reading his post here.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Lent and what goes with it

Bible reading plans, local celebrations, fasting, repentance . . . just to name a few.
About 2 years ago, I began using an app called YouVersion.  It is actually a Bible app with several extras.  One of those added features connects me to several different reading plans, allowing me to daily see a devotional or which chapters of the Bible I should read to complete a "plan" by a certain date or after so many days.  I am currently using 2 - a parenting devotional and a Bible-in-a-year plan. They'll even send me e-mail reminders.  Because Lent was approaching, I received a notice at the bottom of my app asking me, more or less, if I celebrated Lent and if I wanted to browse their reading plans for the occasion. I answered (silently) "no, but I'm interested in seeing what that involves." Browsing the plans, I noticed that one was 46 days.  Strange.  I thought Lent was 40 days.  So I looked it up.  Thanks to google, the answer was at my fingertips - yes, 40 days, not counting Sundays, between Ash Wednesday and the Saturday before Easter.  That clears things up a bit.  But there is more surrounding this holiday.

Here in the Yucatan, the days leading up to it involve something called Carnaval which is like Mardi Gras in New Orleans, LA.  The Evangelical church here is diabolically opposed to this "celebration" as it basically puts the bar and club scene out on the streets of Mérida for several nights.  My hubby reminded me of a conversation we had with a family who saw it as a time to basically get your fun in, then repent on Ash Wednesday, no harm done. Needless to say, we didn't take part in this aspect of Lent.  But it raises my curiosity.  What goes on in the life of these individuals during Lent?

Traditionally, I found out through the trusted Wikipedia site, people are expected to fast in some form, generally giving up meat products at least on the Fridays as well as Ash Wednesday during Lent as a form of penitence.  However, there are several Protestants who also choose to observe some form of fasting during this time through giving up some particular food or habit.  This is done more out of choice than obligation.  Even popular healthy living sites are using this as a motivational tool.  

This morning during breakfast, Dave shared with me and article he received from about this very topic.  In it, the author listed 14 ways to improve your health during the season of Lent not only for observers but also for those wanting to support friend and family members who "do without" during this time.  This peaked my interest.  What could I do?  Some areas mentioned in the article were things we already did - drinking enough water, daily walks, eating 3 servings of fruit a day . . ..  I guess I was feeling gutsy.  I suggested something to Dave and Rebekah during our morning walk.

 "I think I want to give up white flour and sugar." 

Now, this wasn't an out-of-the-blue thing.  Earlier this week I was listening to my missionary friend's thoughts on how her family is eliminating carbs from their diet when they're in the form of white flour and high fructose corn syrup.  They are even trying to eliminate corn in general from their diet because of what it turns into in the body when not expended by daily exercise.  My Mom has also said for years how badly white flour and sugar affect her system.  Of course, if I was choosing to give these things up, that didn't mean my family had to as well.  I just wanted them to know my plans, but that they were welcome to join me if they so chose.  Imagine my surprise at dinner today - lentil soup - when my 13 and 11-year-old kiddos chimed in that they also wanted to participate!  I clearly said NO white flour or sugar, mind you.

So, here begins my/our journey.  There will be major changes, moody days, cravings, and frustrations.  But there will also, hopefully, be a sense of togetherness, improvements in health, more energy (eventually), weight-loss(?) and growth as we investigate and move forward in this new endeavor.

Do you celebrate Lent?  Are you giving up something or adding something healthy to your routine?  Maybe you've tried to give up white flour and sugar - any advice?