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Modern Missionary Mamas

Because even moms like football.

Fruit in its season

I took my son berry picking for the first time today. When I was a kid, this is how we spent every Father’s Day, picking strawberries for a pie for my very deserving Dad. So if there was one thing I was hoping for on furlough, this was it.

It did not disappoint. Apart from my genes, I know he’s my kid because he just kept looking around, staring off into the wind, sighing, “I love this, Mom. Thanks for bringing me here.” It makes our souls happy.

To prepare for the event, we watched a video about the history of blueberries so that we could count this as school. And they pointed out that one of the reasons blueberries are such a pain in the butt so fun to pick is that they don’t all ripen at the same time, so machines won’t do. You have to go berry by berry, by hand. It’s slow business. But it also reminded me that this is not unlike the dreams that many moms carry around, not sure when or if they’ll ever happen.

So let me just encourage you: if you have a dream that you’ve set aside for a while in the name of raising your kids, keep an eye on it. Give it a tug now and then. When it’s time for it to be fruitful, you’ll know. Give it some fertilizer now and then; but for now, pick what’s in front of you. Respect the seasons of life; that’s key to contentment. As my son can now attest, fruit out of season is just nasty.

You’ve got this, mamas.

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Portable Height Record!

I LOVE this idea! We have a fabric growth chart for Peter, but it hasn’t gotten rehung since we moved (two years ago…).

Come on and work it on out!

Last week, I set this year’s real-olution.

Oh, what’s a “real-olution,” you ask? Well, mamas, that’s simple. It’s a resolution that you suddenly realize you have done n.o.t.h.i.n.g. to achieve since January 21st, and you decide to get real about it, since the year’s half over.

And the biggest one that most people have?

Exercise.

Well, losing weight, but for most of us, it’s the same, n’est-ce pas? But as we all know, working out got ten times more complicated when you acquired that first kid. So since I’m just getting back into working out, here’s what’s helping me:

*Reject that this is a tedious burden. Yeah, I know, it’s hot. But your body in motion glorifies the One who made it, because you are made to move. So stop with the attitude and commit to it as an act of gratitude for a body that works as it (mostly) should. I realized on my run yesterday morning that the only promises I break are the ones I make to myself. Mamas, this should not be. 

*Pray for self-control. It’s a fruit of the Spirit, right? You’re not in this alone.

*Accept that you will be interrupted. As with your Bible reading, this is no longer a solo, spa-like, stress-reducing activity. It’s sometimes helpful to give them a snack just before you start to give yourself a head start. Let them know that you would rather not pause it unless it’s really important. (Clarify that fixing the bike bell that broke six months ago is not really important.)

*Involve your kids. If your kids are small, try a babywearing workout like this one. If your kids are medium-sized like mine, I put out a second yoga mat for them to fight over  share. They dance along and make up their own “workouts” to the music, and it all works okay, so long as they stay off MY mat. We use canned food for weights, and they get their own water bottles. If your kids are a little bigger, try something like a coin-flip workout, an alphabet workout where you can spell their names, or a playground workout while they play. They love making Mom work! Give them the stopwatch and see how fast you can lap the house.

*Start small. No, I mean, small. When I first started working out a few years ago, I did not plan to run three miles or do a thirty-minute workout. You know how long my first run was? Five minutes. Then I stopped and walked home. Then the next time, I went for six minutes. Then seven. Forget baby steps–for some of us, that’s too big, even. Think insect steps. Ants get it done, mamas–observe their ways and be wise, especially when it comes to building a new habit.

*Think about what’s preventing you from enjoying it. I run with a hat on because I realized a year ago that I hated sweat in my eyes. No more sweat now! You may need to change something small to make it more fun. Get a better yoga mat. Some new shoes. You’ll save money on health costs in the future.

*Get some structure. Here’s a few that I’ve encountered at different points in mommyhood:

  1. Moms into Fitness. Her Pretty Fierce Weight Loss videos are ones I keep going back to. You can get a taste of it here. 
  2. Sworkit. This is a no-equipment required workout app with premade workouts as well as the option to customize a workout for strength, yoga, cardio or stretching. You can choose the length of the workout in five minute increments and it builds in a warmup as well as thirty-second breaks. It’s also easy to pause (that’s a Mom Essential). And it’s free! You don’t even need a smartphone.
  3. Wii Fit. We’re blessed with the electricity to make this work; I realize not everyone is. But the Wii does use less power than most gaming units–just make sure it gets unplugged from the wall when you’re done. But I did find it motivating to play games!
  4. Couch to 5K. This is a popular plan for true beginners. A 5K is a little over three miles; you can TOTALLY achieve that. And they’re addictive.
  5. Zombie app. My sister-in-law uses this one, and it cracks me up. If you don’t run fast enough, you can hear the zombies getting closer. I’m laughing even now. Whatever motivates you, mamas!
  6. Start a Pinterest board. TONS of ideas here! If you need inspiration, you can follow mine. (No judgment, okay? I know you want perkier breasts, too. Don’t pretend.)

*Schedule it. The night before, I lay out my workout clothes next to my regular clothes. Yeah, it’s nerdy, but it reminds me. I also put it into my schedule: what time, exactly, am I going to do this? It’s working for me to do it right after homeschool, while kids are killing their brain cells via Netflix and snacking.

More thoughts:

The Art of Simple Podcast: Exercise

Your thoughts: Anything to share with us? How have you found success with this?

Supporting the family you left behind

adam-sherez-228579-unsplash
Photo by Adam Sherez on Unsplash

One of the things that came out of a trip to our organizational headquarters last year was a sense that we could be doing more for parents/family of missionaries. This isn’t a calling they chose, like we did. This is a sacrifice they’re making, this is dreams that aren’t coming true, having us far away. It’s not how they pictured birthdays and holidays, right? And it’s especially not easy, when the church body tends to lean toward “aren’t we so thrilled for them?” instead of being willing to genuinely walk beside them, even when they’re not happy we’re overseas. Maybe especially then.

So I made a thing that you can give your church body, to help start the conversation about how to better support the part of your family you’re leaving behind. Feel free to distribute it far and wide! Let me know what you think of it: good or bad, I’m open to suggestions.

Love you, mamas.

Supporting the Stateside Family of Missionaries

Letting go is like Jenga

A friend of mine, Meredith, who teaches at Peter’s school, posted this fantastic analogy a few weeks ago. Transition is tough: hang in there, mamas. We get it. 

jenga

Life currently feels a little like being a carefully constructed (but not perfect) Jenga tower about to be dismantled by a bunch of 5th graders. Even though we have 2.5 weeks of school left, adjusted schedules meant yesterday was the last time I got to teach this years 5th grade. I told them I was leaving at the end of the school year. I wasn’t expecting to cry but fat tears rolled down my face when I said it.

At the end of class, a group of my students were playing this game (I have different stations available during check out time #librarian), and all I could think about was Jenga life metaphors. How living this Haiti life has been like slowly building a life here and feeling like each new connection was a wooden block in my Jenga structure. I am out of building blocks so the game’s focus changes.

If you have ever played Jenga, you know that to play, you have to carefully plan which block to tap on, push out, and add to the top. Some blocks move easily, they don’t really shake the foundation and it’s easy to be fearless that you won’t knock over the tower. Some of those pieces stick, you hold your breath as you gently pull them out, and pray that the tower won’t fall on your turn. But there are always those blocks you think are easy to move, you attack them fearlessly, and they stick a little.

Saying goodbye to 5th grade was like taking out a block of life that stuck a little when I didn’t expect it to.

The Strawberry Paradox: Why having it all isn’t everything.

fresh organic strawberry in white bowl
Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

Stumbled across this in a book called Pain: The Gift Nobody Wants by Dr. Paul Brand and Philip Yancey…

When I speak to church or medical groups I often tell stories from my childhood or my surgical career in India. “Oh, you poor thing,” someone may respond, “growing up without plumbing or electricity or even radio. And the sacrifices you made working such sad people in those harsh conditions!” I stare dumbfounded at the sympathizer, realizing how differently we must view pleasure and fulfillment. With the luxury of age I can look back on three-quarters of a century, and without a doubt the times that seemed to involve personal struggle now shine with a peculiar radiance. In my work with leprosy patients, our medical team faced hardship, yes, and many barriers, but the very process of working together to surmount those barriers yielded what I now remember as the most ecstatic moments of my life. And as I watch my grandchildren growing up in suburban America, I covet for them the richness of life that I enjoyed in the “primitive” conditions of the Kolli Malai range in India.

And then came this sweet little third culture kid moment, which is what I really wanted to share with you:

I have vivid childhood memories of strawberries. When Mother tried to grow strawberries in our garden, bugs, birds, cattle and the unfriendly climate of the mountains conspired against them. If a few hardy fruits did manage to defeat their enemies, we would hold the ceremony of strawberries. With no refrigerator for storage, we had to eat them right away. My sister, Connie, and I shivered with anticipation. We gathered around the table with our parents and ogled, smelled, and savored the one or two bright, luscious strawberries. Then, under intense scrutiny from Connie and me, Mother divided the berries into four equal portions. We arranged the fruit on a plate, added milk or cream, and ate each portion slowly and delectably. Half the enjoyment came from the taste of the strawberry and half from the joy of sharing. Today, of course, I can go to a corner market near my home and buy a pint of strawberries from Chile or Australia, any month of the year. But the pleasure I get from eating those strawberries does not compare with my experience from childhood.

Oh mamas, don’t ever think that giving your kids a small treat is proportionate to the blessing in their hearts. They’re not dumb. They know money is tight. They know you’re doing your best. But you don’t have to break the bank to spoil them–don’t forget to give them the other half of the enjoyment–sharing it with your family. Making a memory together! That experience that was forged in pain, the pain of a mom not home to eat familiar fruits in the summer, the pain of her gardening failures, the pain of having little to celebrate with–it broke up that cold, hard ground and blossomed into a beautiful example of determination, sacrifice and delight for this adult TCK. Gratitude changes everything, doesn’t it?

I have said it before, and I’ll say it again: missionary kids are the luckiest kids in the world. You are giving them an incredible gift, whether they realize it now or not.

Do you have any “strawberry paradox” moments to share?

Electricity-free cooling

Has anybody tried this? I’m tempted to try it for fruits and veggies that don’t fit in the fridge…

Also, “discovery” seems a bit strong, since I’m pretty sure ancient cultures have done this for centuries…but hey, sure, it’s a discovery.

Summer PSA

Replace “wine” with “vegan chocolate,” and that’d be fine, thanks. Happy almost summer, mamas!

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