Language learning for kids

Photo by Kadima Dayschool on Pexels.com

Since this is something I never mastered (heck, I never got them to say more than “hi,” “how are you,” and “goodbye”), I thought I’d throw this up here, especially since they seem to be running an awesome discount right now:

http://www.languagelearningforchildren.com/

Bonne chance maman! Vous avez ça.

Humane Technology, Your Host Culture, and You

I spend a lot of time thinking about technology. As a mom, I think about how it affects my kids’ values, their development, their well-being. As a wife, I think about how it’s affecting my marriage–not if, but how. Because folks, we spend a lot more time parallel than we used to, and not the good kind of parallel. We’re both watching TV, but we’re both still on our phones. That’s got to be having an impact.

Photo by Buro Millennial on Pexels.com

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/to-learn-how-to-practice-humane-technology-look-to-the-amish/2020/02/17/c79fa0ba-36fc-11ea-bf30-ad313e4ec754_story.html

But I’ve never spent much time thinking about technology as a Christian, and the above article has me thinking maybe I should. How is technology affecting our community? This idea of ethical technology use is one that’s going to be rattling around in my head for a while before I land anywhere, but I think there’s a lot to learn from our brothers and sisters in Christ in the Amish church. Yes, there’s a lot of legalism, but there’s also a lot of care and concern for the whole person and the whole community.

I read this book ages ago. I probably need a re-read. Probably annually.

If you’re interested, here’s more thoughts on tech addiction and ethical usage: https://www.wired.com/story/center-for-humane-technology-tech-addiction/

I want technology in my home: I think rejecting entirely is probably foolish, especially in the missionary life, where political situations can become unstable at the drop of a hat. But I also want to teach my kids (and myself) moderation. Occasional tech fasts (often on Sundays…but not this one, apparently) have kept me grounded. Getting some distance from my phone often feels like the best thing I can do for my mental health. But this isn’t easy in Haitian culture: my friends expect me to answer the phone, every time it rings. So I just had to explain to them that I’m not going to. Were they hurt? A little. But you know, that boundary has helped me maintain my own mental health. I needed it. I needed to give myself permission to unplug.

Is tech use something you’ve discussed as a family? As a community of believers? How does your host culture use technology? Where do you come down?

Happy Sunday, mamas…or whatever day it is where you are. (Curse you, time zones.)

Just an FYI that I am an Amazon affiliate, so if you purchase something from one of the links above, they pay me a small fee that doesn’t affect the price of what you bought.

Article: The Awkward Missionary ‘Middle’ Between Poverty and Wealth

“All of us who live in this “middle” are in a constant mental battle between abundance and need. You learn to cry with those in need and rejoice with those in abundance, and you find yourself entrapped in both. You learn not to spend too much time processing or comparing your exact position along the wealth spectrum between the two extremes.

You can’t really articulate this struggle because it’s a kind of schizophrenic pivoting between guilt and jealousy, gratitude and shame, compassion and self-pity, anger and sorrow, generosity and greed, a bleeding heart and shocking indifference caused by compassion fatigue.”

Great article, including the story about burning undies. I laughed so hard.

Missions is awkward for so. many. reasons.

https://www.abwe.org/blog/awkward-missionary-%E2%80%98middle%E2%80%99-between-poverty-and-wealth?fbclid=IwAR0aKhUgCweNRQsP3UQfKZv62aWyR_xx7YBkF36Q5hgd68IjUzu6iuuUkGA

Friendships on the Field: Cracks

I took up the violin in sixth grade after playing the piano for many years. My first violin was sturdy; it was finished with a dark stain and shiny, which I liked, because it felt like a Serious Instrument. But the sound was bit…flat. Ordinary. Still, we were only renting it from the local music store, so I wasn’t too attached to it. It was serving its purpose.

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

But once I’d been playing for a while, my dad took me to downtown Portland to the music store where he often went to find scores for the community band he directed. After winding through the milk crates full of sheet music, past the records, past the student instruments on display, I couldn’t hide my excitement as the owner took us upstairs to the attic.

The instrument he put into my hands was striated on the back, its light finish on the front more matte than shiny. It had a few deep scratches, and where it was glued together, it was darker, as if dirt and oils had seeped in over the years. It had a label inside, but it didn’t give us much information about where it had come from.

But when I lifted the violin to my shoulder and the first note sang out, my dad and I both smiled. Being a salesman, he didn’t usually give away how much we liked a product in order to have a better negotiating position…but the owner smiled too, because he knew I was in love. I babysat for months to pay off my part of it, and I did so gladly.

Photo by Dominik Scythe on Unsplash

But my beautiful violin had a problem. A defect. A fatal one, really: a crack in the scroll, right where the peg put pressure on the wood the most, every time I tuned it. Over time, it got worse and worse, and I would hold my breath every time I tuned.

This is a blog post about friendship. (No, really, it is.) Because everyone has cracks.

We are not shiny, we’ve got wear and tear. But when the truth is spoken, the Christ in us recognizes the Christ in them regardless.

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”[a] made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

2 Corinthians 4:6-7 NIV

Friendships with people who are aware of their cracks are going to be a bit bumpy from time to time, when you hit a nerve. Friendship with people who are unaware of their cracks entirely, who’ve painted over them, who’ve shoved glue in the fissures and gone blithely on, are going to be like the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland, complete with boulders that try to crush you.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Luke 6:41-42 NIV

On the field, we don’t always get a choice about who we work with. Co-workers may consider you a friend, or they may want a more detached relationship. Either way, you need each other to make the ministry work.

Photo by Joseph Pearson on Unsplash

Affirm what’s yours and what’s not.

You can’t work on someone else’s issues for them. It’s one of the things that I resent most about relationships, actually. I’m sure I could fix you if given the opportunity…not that I’d want you to try to fix me in return. (Oh, hello plank; yes, let’s take that out…)

Their attitudes, their behaviors, their beliefs, their choices and values and desires all belong to them. So let it. Don’t take responsibility for their choices, even if you feel it reflects poorly on you or the organization. Chances are good that people understand that you’re not condoning

Be honest with yourself.

Take a self-inventory. What events from your life have made you the person you are today, for good or for bad? You brought more than physical baggage to the field with you…you brought emotional baggage, too. I know for me, it was abandonment issues. My grandfather left us when I was very young, and then in kindergarten, first and second grade, I formed close friendships with a different kid who moved away.

My small self decided that everyone leaves, and it wasn’t worth the hurt.

Fast forward about twenty years: here I am, arriving on the field, ready to bond with my new co-workers and other expats. About two years after the earthquake when the money ran out, the mass exodus of missionaries started, and all that old hurt about being left behind came back. I’d like to say I didn’t take it out on the people who were leaving, but I know for a fact that I did.

But I didn’t want to continue on that way. It took work to erase that lie. It took work to believe that the hurt was worth it. It took a very intentional decision to choose short friendships, to choose to bond deeply with people who I knew would leave me. But mamas, those friendships sang. Love is one of the few things that lasts into eternity, and you can have as much of it as you dare.

Don’t let your own cracks keep you from deep relationships. You’re not protecting anyone; you’re not even really protecting yourself. Because we all need support, and denying yourself that on the grounds of your own brokenness is setting yourself up to fall. It’s denying the truth that God spoke in the garden of Eden: It’s not good for man to be alone.

Listen to the story of the plank and speck again: take the plank out first, then work on the speck. He doesn’t condemn your care for others: he just wants it to be informed by your own issues. Start there.

Treat others’ faults with care

I tuned my instrument more carefully once I found that flaw. And this is a gift that we can give to others, to treat their issues as gently as we can. This may include (but is not limited to):

  • Keeping their confidence. If it’s said in private, it stays between you. Ask before you share any part of their story, even with your spouse. But I say this with a caveat: if this fault or a weakness means they should not be in children’s or youth ministry, you do have a responsibility to say so. For a case in point of someone who did not do so, see here.
  • Pray for them. Note: not asking for others to pray for them, a bit of gossip-sharing under the guise of spiritual concern…just pray for them yourself.
  • Don’t push on the sore spots unless you have permission. I made a huge mistake last year: I had a dear friend with anxiety. I knew that. But I thought her fears were stupid, and I told her so. It cost me the friendship, and I’m still kicking myself about it. I didn’t have the right to speak to that issue in her life. I knew she was touchy about it, but I was frustrated with her. I crossed her boundary, and she threw me off her property for trespassing, as she should. Respect those “no trespassing” signs.
  • Apologize quickly. Since those signs aren’t always visible, if it’s obvious you stumbled onto an old wound, just apologize, even if you’re not sure what you did wrong. It’s enough to know that it caused them pain.

I love you, mamas. Even on the days when you don’t feel it, you are a force for good in the world. Fixing a healthy snack is good. And filling the water filter. And keeping your spouse’s work shirts clean. And smashing the bathtub cockroaches.

A force. for. good.

Don’t let the cracks stop you.

Sex and the Married Missionary {A Life Overseas} — The Trotter Family

by Jonathan We don’t talk about sex very much. Sure, we might joke about it (the first working title for this article was The Missionary Position), but we don’t actually talk about it very much. Truth is, most folks are scared to death to have an honest, non-joking, realistic talk about sex. Maybe with a good friend, […]

Sex and the Married Missionary {A Life Overseas} — The Trotter Family

My devotional is back!

About this time last year, I came out with a devotional called In the Face of Injustice. It’s the beat of my heart to help mamas (and papas and aunties and daughters and whoever) dealing with difficult situations that make them feel helpless…and I decided that it’s not worth trying to sell it.

So the book will be available here on this site for free. Feel free to pass the link on to others in your life who might find it helpful.

I hope it’s a blessing to you, and if it is, would you just leave a note in the comments or shoot me an email at Christine.Harms@gmail.com? I’d love to hear about how God used it in your life. And slowly, I’m writing another one, so I’m hoping that’ll be out next year. (It takes longer than you’d think!)

Click here to get In the Face of Injustice for free.

Drumbeat

Photo by Jure Širić on Pexels.com

You’ve been in church, so you know what happens when the worship leaders try to take things acoustic sometimes. We think it’ll be fine; people will just sing together, sing with the guitar or the piano or whoever we let keep playing.

But it doesn’t work that way…without the drumbeat, people speed up. They slow down. They lose pace with each other. Because in order to sing together, we need a drumbeat like a body needs a heartbeat.

So what’s the drumbeat of your ministry? What unifies the parts into a whole? What keeps you on track? What keeps the river inside the banks so the crazy thing doesn’t flow all over town? And by that, I mean that there’s always more opportunity than you.

Let me say that again: there’s always more opportunity than you. There’s always going to be. So if we don’t try to define, refine, restrict what we’re about in a really laser-focused way, we’re going to run out of us.

Don’t do that, mamas. Please.

You’re loved and prayed for today. You’ve got this.