Sunday, November 22, 2015

Thanksgiving in Mexico

Thanksgiving is a holiday which I didn’t really think much about before I came to. I mean sure I loved the get together and the turkey but that’s about all it was for me. I hardly remembered the whole story behind it besides that it had to do with pilgrims and Indians. I honestly didn’t even know how much I had taken the holiday for granted until my first Thanksgiving here in Mexico. This post is dedicated to all my ladies who are in their first few years her in Mexico. I actually don’t get sad at Thanksgiving anymore. It’s a fun time with good friends and my family. But this year I had some friends over who are in their first few years here and I was reminded of how hard it was before. I want you all to know I’m sending this blog out as a virtual hug to help you feel a bit better during this time of year which can be very difficult.
Flashback to November 2008, I was determined to still celebrate Thanksgiving and make it as much like home as I could. I had no idea how to make a turkey and hubby was working constantly. I think I ended up making a ham. Since I was fairly new to staying at home and not working all day the dinner and clean up didn’t seem to take as long as I thought it would. So this gave me an incredible amount of time to think. That is never a good thing. We invited the only family we had in town at the time. I wanted us to eat dinner around 6pm so we could have everything cleaned up and tidy for an appropriate bed time. For those of you that have been here form more than a few days may already be laughing. Of course six o clock rolls around and I have my daughter watching the parade over and over again on the computer. Food is cooked, hot and ready to serve. My husband comes in and is so thankful for all I’ve done. I’m feeling pretty good at this point. I mean even though we had mentioned that we would eat at six I had been in Mexico almost 6 months now and I knew they would be a “bit” late. Now its seven o’clock and I was getting a little annoyed. I ask hubby to call his family and find out what’s going on. Oh they say they would be here around eight. What?!?!?!?!?!?!?!? That’s when I gave up on my Thanksgiving being anything like in the states. Isn’t it funny how my expectations totally ruined my day? That happened to me a lot when I first got here. Next I fed Alana and put her to bed and Issac and I hung out until they showed up. Here is where it gets interesting. We heated up the food and sat down to eat, then came the flow of questions. Why do you celebrate Thanksgiving? Why do you eat turkey? When was the first thanksgiving? What happened? Why is the pumpkin pie so important? What’s your favorite part about thanksgiving? I of course mumbled and scrambled my way through explanations as Issac translated for me. But it made me realize how I hadn’t really thought of these things in a very long time.
From that year on I decided we needed to make traditions that help us to remember what Thanksgiving is about. And for me it’s not really about pilgrims and Indians. To me it’s about taking a day (or a month) to be sure and reminds yourself of all that you are thankful for. I know that we need to be thankful all year round and actually we are but how much better to have a day specially set out to celebrate what you’re thankful for with friends and family. The girls learn about Christopher Columbus and all that in October here so I just let them know that the original Thanksgiving was because the immigrants needed help and the people who already were there taught them how to survive and that is what they were celebrating. One of our favorite traditions is our Thankful tree. We make it and put it up at the beginning of November and anyone who visits is asked to write on a leaf what they are thankful for. My girls write a leaf almost every day if I let them. Here is a beginning and now pic of our tree this year. It looks a bit different every year and depends on what materials I have on hand. Last year it was made form newspaper. This year I happened to have large white paper so we used that. It’s a fun way to keep our minds and hearts focused in the right direction during a time when we could start feeling down and alone.

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Sunday, November 15, 2015

After 6 years

My last trip to Missouri was in October 2009 when my oldest was three and the middle one was only 6 months old. That’s insane!!!!!! But really it was necessary on so many accounts. First of all I think I needed the isolation from the states to help with the culture adjustments. I still remember the day I read Leslies blog when she said she hadn’t been back to the states for over five years and that she didn’t really miss it all that much anymore. I remember thinking I want that, I’m sick of comparing, I’m ready to be “at home” in Mexico. It’s not like I planned it really but I do remember reading that and thinking that. Then when my middle child was less than two years old number three popped out. (She really did just pop out, labor was less than four hours).  I had my hands full with little ones and the time just flew by. I started working, and really vacations time and money are two things that just don’t line up to often. About year four after my last visit I was just too nervous to try to travel alone with all three girls. The time I went before honestly it was a nightmare with a three year old and a six month old. Then there was the whole Canada fiasco. We were thinking maybe we should get there first and then it will be easier to visit.
 Ok so that is the end of all my excuses. I always feel like I have to give them because when I tell people I haven’t visited my family in six years I get dagger eyes from them. Once someone was giving a prophetic word to me about Lily and they said that she will do missions, but that it would be short term missions and that her heart and home would always be in Mexico with her mom and dad”. Then they added, “Unlike yours which flew the coop and never looked back.” It made me laugh because I hadn’t even told them yet how long it had been. 
So, the last couple months have been filled with a crazy roller coaster of emotions. God has shown me many images and I’ve had countless dreams about things that will go on while I’m there. So many things that right now seem impossible. I can’t quite figure out the logistics of how theywill happen. But over and over He has proven to be right when he speaks to me in this way so I have believed. Also fear has entered about being in the airport and going through customs with less than a two hour layover and three kids. Later I get excited because someone sets up a date where I will get to see them and hug them. And I remember how excited I am to see all the people I love and who have supported me in all this time. Then I remember that I hardly even go to the grocery store with all three girls and without my husband. Oh crap Im going to a different country with them and without him, WHAT WAS I THINKING!!!!! My sister then sends me a message about her vacation time and I start to relax and think about morning chatting over coffee and spiritual discussions. This makes me start thinking about how most of my family lives in the country and my girls are such city kids and I’ll have to be on top of them the whole time. So basically this is how I have been for a couple months now. Really this is just a small peak inside the insanity.
But guess what my Father God doesn’t want this insanity going on inside my head. He wants peace, patience, and good thoughts. He reminded me of that this weekend in our prayer service. I received word after word form people I hadn’t discussed any of this with. And of course He spoke directly to me covering me with a blanket of His love. He reminded me that he is so much bigger than all that other stuff. He reminded me that if He can stop a freaking hurricane from blowing up Mexico then he can help us get through customs without stress. He reminded me that I have given and continue to give my girls and their safety to Him on a daily basis. He gave me peace in my heart that even as I now write all those things above I laugh at them. I know that they are nothing compared to my Daddy in heaven. That the entire time the Holy Spirit will be there giving me, and my girls, His wisdom and His knowledge. And even now as I write he tells me he wants to heal people even in the airport. That this can be a mission trip and it makes me so happy and calm.

Now we get to the fun part. Now I am planning without fear. I am overly excited. I have gifts for my friends and family members. I have checked our suit cases to be sure we have enough. We are in the process of getting our consent letter printed and notarized. And the tickets have been ready for quite some time now. So here is and image of what we will look like in just 4 weeks and three days. My girls are going to be baffled by all that we see and do. SO EXCITING!!!!!!!


Sunday, November 8, 2015

Discipline, What does it really mean?

Today I am going to write about raising children. Yikes this is a heavy subject. I have felt inspired to write about this for various reasons. One of which is that my position in the church makes it necessary. My husband and I are in charge of the Pastoral Ministries in our church. Somehow God managed to implant the churches mission vision and DNA into our hearts long before we ever came to SOZO. The Holy Spirit is amazing in that way. That being said the things I’m going to write about are nothing new as far as biblical principles but they are often times ignored. Also they are often times spoken of without the aspect of grace (through which we have been saved and not through works). So soon I will be writing a counseling manual for those in our church who will be giving counseling to young families. My idea is to get some of my thoughts out here first to help me organize things. Hope you all enjoy and learn and grow in your walk of being a mother. As I have said over and over these principles apply to all moms Christian or not. They are laws written into the fabric of existence that no men can separate from. So if you are not a Christian (like many of my friends and family) read on and see if this helps you with any issues you may have with your kidos. In writing about this just like any other topic I write about I have to admit I am far from considering myself perfect or that I move in these principles 100% every day. But what I can tell you is that I try and I have seen the fruits of each one in the lives of my children. I know I’m biased but really my kidos are amazing!!!!! And to be honest I’m not the only one who notices. But really I can’t take a lot of credit for it. Ill speak more about this a bit later. 

I’m going to base this blog on Proverbs 23:12-26.  Normally I place the verses at the end but this time I’m going to put them here and discuss each one in detail. 

12. Apply your heart to discipline
And your ears to words of knowledge.
Ok mamas this verse is for you not your kidos. If we expect to discipline our children we have to discipline ourselves first. We have to be the example for our little ones, someone they can look up to. For those of you who do not have children and are not ready for this step, please wait. Our children learn by mimicking words and actions. Many times they don’t understand the meanings or implications of such words and actions but they understand that they "work" to accomplish something. Also we have to resign ourselves to be strong and stick to our words. This involves much discipline on a mom part. Many days it is just easier to clean the whole hose by yourself but if you have taught your children that they should be a part of that process it needs to be constant. How can we grow in our discipline? Well for me seeing results is what has helped me stay steady in discipline. The days when my girls come home and clean up without me saying so or yelling or acting crazy (yes this happens sometimes to), I know they are getting it and that I have been showing a good example. 
Now about the words of knowledge, recently there have been videos out about how everyone, including people you don’t know, wants to give you advice on child rearing. Ugg this is so true and especially here in Mexico. And lo and behold what am I doing in this very blog. The honest truth is that you can’t receive the ideas of everyone and think you can apply them all. First you have to decide what your principle beliefs are. If your faith is in God you don’t need to rub eggs on your sick baby or tie strings around their fingers. If you agree about the basic laws which God wove into creation then seek them and you will find your answers. This does not go to say that you shouldn’t seek help. Many times as mothers we run out of options and don’t know which way to turn. This can be a very dangerous situation. What this means is to seek words of knowledge. Look at the children in your life; are any of them how you hope to see your child someday? If so, seek out that mom. If you are in a church, seek out your leaders. And if you don’t like what you see in their kids, then simply seek out Gods advice. Read in your bible about what it says and let the Holy Spirit give you the words of Knowledge you need. You are never ever alone as mom. And if you feel alone please seek a knowledgeable voice for your life. There are tons of blogs, Facebook pages, ext. that can help to guide you. Just be sure to always filter what you are told through the bible and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. If you dont have those two things to filter I’m afraid there will be some things that are just plain trial and error. 

13. Do not withhold discipline from the child;
If you [a]swat him with a reed-like rod [applied with godly wisdom], he will not die.
Here is the kicker. I know there are so many people out there today that want to say that spanking children is bad and will ruin them. But that is simply not the case. The version I am using is the amplified bible. I love this version because it returns to the original translation and writes out complete thoughts about certain words that just don’t translate. When you learn more than one language, you find that often times a word cannot be translated with just one word. You need a thought or a phrase to explain the word. Here they have placed in parenthesis around, applied with Godly wisdom. Wow this is so important. Later I will be talking more about anger but it has to enter in this part also. Spanking should never be done in anger. Children are born into a sinful nature once again due to laws set out since Adam and Eve. The thing is whoever thinks that children are innocent and don’t do intentionally do wrong, has either not had children or do not speak to their children. There is an amazing live stand up by Bill Cosby where he talks about exactly that. Here is the link for some good laughs. Bill Cosby Himself truthfulness of children
Child instincts are naturally not positive because they only think of themselves and what they want. This is not something bad it’s just natural. But they need to be taught and instructed on how not to be this way. Children are the best manipulators you will ever meet, and if you don’t believe this about your child you are most likely the victim of said manipulation. I am not saying you should spank your child for everything they do wrong but there are times in which it is needed. There are many situations where a time out is sufficient and in this you need to know your children and decide according to their personalities.

14. You shall [b]swat him with the reed-like rod
And rescue his life from Sheol (the nether world, the place of the dead).
This sounds so extreme, right? Save him from hell!!!! Well yeah in reality that’s what you will be doing. Children have to be taught that people are not to be manipulated, that the world is not only about them and that they should love other people.  How can they love other people? Love is an action it is a verb. They also need to learn obedience. Many of the world wide problems today are because people think they should always get to do what they want and not what they are told.  Clearly any environment is better when creativity and grace enter. But there has to be a balance. Learning to submit to leadership and guidance is such a hard lesson. It makes it even harder if children were never taught to do so when young. Although it may seem harsh right now while your child is five years old think about how they will be able to keep a job if they refuse to submit to a boss. Thinking of the most recent reasons my children received a spanking was because they were treating their siblings in a manner that is not acceptable or because they refused to clean their room. Was I angry and flying off the handle when I spanked them? Of course not!  As a mom you have to be sure that discipline happens before you reach your limit. This enters into the mommy discipline that I spoke of earlier. If you feel your tempeture rising take a deep breath calm down then apply discipline to the child. 

15. My son, if your heart is wise,
My heart will also be glad;
16. Yes, my heart will rejoice
When your lips speak right things.
This verse gives me rest and peace. It’s so true. Like I said before the results of self-discipline are what encourages you to keep it up. In the same way that our Father God looks at us and is glad, we can look at our children and be glad. This is not a prideful gladness because we know that really God is raising our children but a gladness knowing that my child will have successful relationships and a pure heart as an adult. A fullness that is worth every effort you have put forth. My kids teach me so much day after day. At times their wisdom throws me for a loop and I love to learn from them. 

17. Do not let your heart envy sinners [who live godless lives and have no hope of salvation],
But [continue to] live in the [reverent, worshipful] fear of the Lord day by day.

Sometimes my girls notice that other moms are not as strict or do not expect as much out of their children as I do. They have asked me before, why does so and sos mom let them act that way. Many times this has been a great teaching moment. I ask my girls how it made them feel when said child acted the way they did. How did it affect the activity or play that was going on? Should we cause that kind of feelings for other people? The thing is kids that throw fits and act out many times is due to lack of identity and love (which will be in another post). Discipline is an act of love. It gives children security and helps them have order in their world. By living a disciplined life and thinking of others we honor God because he loves those "others" as much as he loves you. His love is an unconditional love. So I help my girls to understand that is why I discipline them. I do it out of love, and so far they understand and accept this with great understanding. 
18. Surely there is a future [and a reward],
And your hope and expectation will not be cut off.
Ahhh there is that peace again. In the midst of the turmoil of being a mommy we can rest in the promises God has given us. There will be a reward. Somedays we don’t see it, but others it is so evident. Again the fruits of your labor should be shining through every once in a while to give you this glimmer of hope for the future. And of course once they are grown and have their own children they will be a daily example of your efforts and of the love God has towards them. I love how it says your expectation will not be cut off. Because those who have received promises brought to completion from God know that He always goes the extra mile. Your expectations fall very short of what God has for your children. His dreams and goals for them are HUGE!!! Your children have a life purpose so much bigger than you can even imagine. We should be their launching ground. At our church we speak of parents building a platform that can serve as a roof for their children until the children can then build even higher. We want them to excide what we have accomplished in life and in Christ.
19Listen, my son, and be wise,
And direct your heart in the way [of the Lord].
 20Do not associate with heavy drinkers of wine,
Or with gluttonous eaters of meat,
 21For the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty,
And the drowsiness [of overindulgence] will clothe one with rags.
 Here we have to talk about the constant education and teaching that we need to be giving to our children. Since the age of two or three my girls have had a piggy bank which they save money all year long. Each Easter they are allowed to open their banks and spend their money however they wish. My husband and I give them ideas and make suggestions when they ask for them but otherwise we allow them to buy what they want and we never add to what they have. If they don’t have enough then they have to find something else. My oldest daughter is now 9 and you would be amazed at how wise her spending decisions are. We cannot just give, give, give and give to our children. When we do this we are teaching them that they can always get what they want. That even if they don’t have enough resources it will be given to them. Often times I look around and wish that my girls could have all the fun stuff I had as a kid. But also I know that because of all that stuff I had my mom went into debt. And I never thought I had enough. I got arrested for stealing at 15 years old and it wasn’t the first time I had stolen. The point is that going into debt to give your children everything you always or never had will not help them. My girls are happy yet sometimes they notice that other kids have things they don’t. But they also take care of the things that they have. They appreciate each and every gift in a special way. They have learned to make toys out of recycled items and how to appreciate those toys even more because they made them. I know I have a lot to learn here because often times my flesh sneaks in and gets envious of those moms who do give everything to their children. It’s a constant fight between my spirit and flesh but when I feel I’m not sure I remember to seek out the knowledge of God.
22Listen to your father, who sired you,
And do not despise your mother when she is old.

 How can we teach this part to our children? This is only taught but example. You cannot tell your children to respect you then speak badly about your mother... or mother in law (ouch). You cannot say listen to your father and then ignore any advice given by your own... or by your husband (your children’s father). Ok I guess you can do that but I promise you your children will notice the double standard and follow your actions and not your words.
23Buy truth, and do not sell it;
Get wisdom and instruction and understanding.
Ok so I have to admit this verse through me for a loop at first. I had to do some cross referencing about the words buy and sell. Because at first I thought well selling the truth would be a good idea right? If you do cross reference checking on the word used for buy in this verses it was often translated as seek, look for, search, or find. Ok so we need to be looking for the truth. This goes along with what we said before. It’s ok not to know everything and to seek out knowledgeable advice. And the word used for sell in other verses is used for gaining profit, for personal gain, or loving your own life more than Christ. Wow that is pretty powerful. We should not do all of this for our own personal gain. We need to do this for the love of Christ and for the betterment of our children. Child rearing should never turn into a selfish accomplishment. It’s something no one can do correctly without the guidance of our Father and to be honest this should be a relief. In this way we can also fall back on the Grace He has for us through Christ when we screw it up, which we will all do more than once. 

24The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice,
And he who sires a wise child will have joy in him.

25Let your father and your mother be glad,

And let her who gave birth to you rejoice [in your wise and godly choices].
 So first off as a daughter still one my favorite things are to call and tell my parents of my recent personal accomplishments. I know my mom will be reading this blog and will feel a since of pride that she has done a work well done. I know my parents were not perfect the same that I am not perfect. But they deserve my respect for what they did accomplish and for the things I did learn from them.  Quite honestly we went through some pretty hard times as a family but I look at all my siblings and can see that my father can be glad and my mother can rejoice. In this same way peace enters in during the most frustrating moments of being a mommy. I can give it to God and know that someday and really in small pieces every day I will receive this promise in completion.
26My son, give me your heart
And let your eyes delight in my ways,
This verse reflects something I mentioned briefly before. All of this is possible when you truly give it all up to God. It says give me your heart. What is in your heart? My heart is full to the brim with my husband and my girls. So both of them I have to give to God. This is something I have done over and over and over again. My flesh always wants to return them into my control and my wisdom. But then the Spirit helps me to remember that I am not capable. But in Christ I can do all things. This means that I need to give my decisions, my self-discipline, and my actions up to Him. When we truly do this life goes so much smother. There is no guilt because I know Jesus covers all my sins and already forgave me for this current screw up. I can once again say ok Lord I give them to you, help me make the right choices.