Wednesday, April 24, 2019

San Jordi

Our absolute favorite regional holiday was on Tuesday! Silas loves to dress up like the hero, San Jordi. But, alas, 1st graders no longer wear costumes. Asher took up the gauntlet though and told me that he fought his classmate who came dressed as a dragon. I'm sure the teacher had her hands full today! Here are a few pictures of the day.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Celebrating the Resurrection

Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness
My beauty, my glorious dress; 
'Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed
With joy shall I lift up my head. 

- Nicolaus von Zinzendorf (cir. 1739)

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Semana Santa

The boys have been off school for "Holy Week" and we've had lots of quality time together, trips to the zoo, and the beloved journey through the story of Christ's death and resurrection through the symbols in the resurrection egg kit. I keep thinking the older boys will outgrow the egg tradition, but Jude is as excited about it as ever, even at eight. I also want to mention one of our favorite books for explaining the redemption story. A friend gave us The Garden, the Curtain and the Cross several years ago, and it's beautifully written and theologically strong. The kids love it!

On Friday, I took a group of Nepali ladies out of the city to have a picnic in the mountains. Because they neither have a car or a drivers license, it's a big deal to get a ride into the remote regions of Catalunya. We laughed a lot, and they chattered in Nepali most of the way, but as we drove back to the city through the mountains, they burst into old hymns about the cross, translated into their native tongue. It was one of those afternoons when you remember just a little more what heaven will be like....with men from every tribe and tongue gathered around the throne to worship the risen Christ.

I thought you might also like a peek at their "picnic" lunch. Nepalis do not picnic with sandwiches, hah!

On Saturday afternoon, we went up to one of our favorite spots in the city, complete with a real Labyrinth. I hid eggs for the boys inside the maze and they loved it. Spaniards don't usually do egg hunts, and let's just say the locals were pretty excited about the fun. I admit that at one point I had to ask a grown woman to leave the eggs for the kids. Haha. I also heard a group of teenagers shout, "Hay dinero en los huevos!!!" (Translated: "There's money in the eggs!" And there were...10c coins, haha!) At which point, I told Jude he'd better hunt fast. It was hilarious and fun. Though next time we might go on an early weekday right when the park opens.

Tomorrow, we'll join with men and women at the international church in the city...where on any given Sunday there might be people from as many as 80 nations. What a powerful King we worship! 

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

On anxiety and family expansion

Pregnancy has never been my best season. My body takes Genesis 3 seriously, and I have a tendency to reference the curse a lot. We've been talking some about the fall during our lunch hour Bible time, and even my four-year-old seems to understand that if there'd never been sin, pregnancy wouldn't be quite this dramatic in our household.

One of the recurring themes for me when my hormones begin to churn is anxiety.

What this usually means is that at least once a day, David and I have a conversation about some trifle or another, in which he effectively exposes my "seemingly valid concern" for what it is: anxiety.

There are a lot of "cares for tomorrow" that crop up when another little one is on the way.

We gave away or sold most of our baby 'stuff' when we moved from South Asia. Asher was already over a year when we landed with 10 suitcases. There was no room for nostalgia. Now, we're shifting the rooms around in our apartment for a growing family. For the first time since he was a toddler, we're fitting Jude for his own bedroom! Silas and Asher will become roomies in the bunk beds. There may or may not be some Star Wars paraphernalia as a part of that deal. We're replacing a toddler room with a nursery...and those airplane curtains are giving way to pink toile.

One of the things I've been mulling over lately is the phrase "affording children." It's a real concern in the city we live in, where housing is outrageously expensive and most mothers work. Cities like ours are a hard place to raise a big family. In most asian cultures, children care for their parents in old age. It's more than a duty, it's a sign of honor. It's an acknowledgement that without their sacrifices, you wouldn't have been born or fed or educated. Children aren't consumers of my wealth. Rather, children are future producers.

For us though, when I think about being able to "afford another child," I could quickly come up with a long list of excuses why three was quite enough.

When I break down what's behind that statement though, what I mean is, "If God continues to give me health and ability, I can put shoes on this child's feet. But the shoes won't have the Nike check. They'll probably be hand-me-downs or off-brand. And I'm afraid that will alter where he stands in society. I can put food in this child's mouth. But not sitting at a relaxing restaurant while someone else does the work. It will be food from the grocery, made with my own hands. And a restaurant would sure be more convenient with all these kids to feed. I have time and energy to raise this child. But it will be a serious imposition on my own personal goals. And in years when I would rather be lightening my pace, I'll be chasing a toddler. I have the means and ability to educate this child, but there will be no talk of Ivy League schools in our future. Is it ok to tell my children they'll need to work their way through college? We can put a loving shelter over this little head. But not a princess room full of monogrammed toys all her own. Is a loving shelter enough, or will she feel slighted when she's finally aware of all the excess out there?"

But when I think about what I really mean when I say things like that, I blush at the reality of the meaning. It's not the life I want to live or the legacy I'd choose to leave. I honestly do not believe that an abundance of possessions or branded clothing will make my children's lives happier or more significant. I don't believe my value lies in that or that life is more fulfilling when wealth is in place. Children are a gift from God. They are to be received as such.

What I don't mean to do is make light of poverty. We have friends, in several countries, who are genuinely impoverished. It is terribly hard and as a parent I'm keenly aware of how desperate some of these friends must feel when they think about providing a future for their children. Nor do I deny that many of luxuries I knew by having parents who could send me to college or enroll me in a private school were silly or meaningless. On the contrary, it was a true gift to me.

But the discussion that I have with my boys over and over again is how we, as educated Westerners with an ability to earn money and gain employment, view ourselves. For me, the measurement is rarely accurate. We are not, by any standard, impoverished. We're on a budget. Sometimes the modern consumer society blurs the lines. A budget begins to feel like poverty. I make light of poverty by my anxiety about what kind of shoes I'll be able to afford, or which restaurants we could eat in. It's a measurement against an affluent suburban lifestyle of ease and comfort. It is not an accurate picture in relation to the way the world, as a whole, lives and works.

Once in a moment of candor, David and I asked an older man if he'd found it difficult to "afford" all those children. (We said it more politely...but only a little;) He'd raised five children while living overseas and working for a non-profit organization. We knew he certainly was not wealthy, but he had faithfully worked for decades in hard, slow work. We were considering adding another child to our household as well. I'll never forget his genuine, immediate response as he looked us straight in the eyes and said, "God has always provided for us. We've always had what we needed." That was all there was to be said.

I hope one day I look a young couple in the eyes and say the exact same words to them. 

Monday, April 15, 2019

Notre Dame

Watching those flames fly up from the Paris sky feels like watching history burn. What a sad day in Paris.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Friday Five

1. I'm 19 weeks into the pregnancy and things are going better. Much better. I haven't lost any food in over a week, and I've even made it through a few days without taking a nap. (Though I'm probably a lot nicer when I do nap.) Here's a photo at 18 weeks by Silas, who loves being my photographer and is still completely adorable when he says goodnight to my belly at night.

Apparently the fifth month is when disrupted sleep enters into my pregnancy woes. In an effort to boost my peace at night, I ordered a pregnancy pillow. I've had one before and it was lost in a sad tale of woe when I stuffed it into a plastic bag for a cross-continental journey only to discover on the other side that it hadn't dried all the way. I lost precious luggage space and that perfect pillow to mold.

David despises pregnancy pillows, though he sacrificially told me to order one for the next few months. Unfortunately, I didn't think to check the measurements. I had no idea it was this huge! Hubs can hardly fit in bed with my preggo pillow and me. This morning, he made the bed on top of the pillow and it looked like we'd buried someone in our bed.

It's a hard life for David these days:)

2. We spoke at a conference down south last weekend and afterwards we took the kids into the old city of Tarragona to visit the Roman sites.  This little town remains one of my favorite places to visit in all of Spain. There's some pretty interesting Christian history in the coliseum and surroundings too.

5. Inspired by the "Circ" or Chariot Race Track that's a part of the ruins, Silas commandeered the delivery box from my pillow and is living the dream! 

4. Asher is still strong willed. I don't think that's going anywhere.  But also seems to have turned the corner on the sweet part of four. He has been so much fun lately. My favorite part of this new phase is when he comes home at "mig dia" and waits for me to make lunch. He sits quietly in his little corner of the pantry and "reads." It's adorable and makes me want to squish him!

Of course, he's still got plenty of spunk too. There may or may not have been a 6-minute penalty on TV time for a flailing 7am fit! Progress though, friends. We're making some great progress.

5. And finally. It's the end of an era. I've forgone having my groceries delivered for 2.5 years in Spain. This week though, I thought I might go into labor while pushing the stroller up the hill to our house. I'm relenting. Food for six seems just a bit too much to carry. Some have asked why I don't drive to the store...which would make sense....if our parking garage wasn't 2 blocks from our 3rd floor apartment and down in a second floor basement. Basically, it would be more of a work out than walking up the hill. My goal for the weekend is to try to figure out the websites that deliver!

And here in Spain it's "Semana Santa," which means all three boys will be out of school for the next 10 days!!! I'm bracing myself for some excitement. 

Happy Weekend to you! 

Thursday, April 4, 2019

NanNan's Visit

Here are a few pics from NanNan's visit, so we don't forget the fun! She stayed for a week and the highlights were the great reveal and Jude's concert at La Palau de la Musica Catalan. All the boys had a birthday shopping date. We also took a Saturday trip to visit Cardona, home to a 2000 year old castle and some pretty exciting salt mines. We  also stumbled across a Calcots festival (spring onions cooked on an open fire) and ate plenty of gelato!

It was such a gift to have her here. I won't deny that there were some pretty sad boys when she departed, but her next trip over should be to welcome the little one this summer!

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Boy or Girl?

It was a big day in our house. Silas has been referring to it as "The Great Discovery" for weeks. In a shocking upset to the current trend, it's a GIRL! We couldn't be more excited!

Hubs and I had a post-doctor brunch to celebrate the big news. And then it was off to get the kids on their lunch break for the big reveal. 

The target with colored water was a big hit with the boys! 

Calling Grammar with the fun news! 

Here comes the pink! 

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Guess Who

Guess who showed up at our house this week, just in time for what Silas is calling "The Great Discovery."

Monday, March 25, 2019

Books in March

I found this little gem, Living Life Backward by Gibson, sitting in the stack of books I unpacked upon our return to Spain. It's an expositional journey through the book of Ecclesiastes. Apparently, a friend gave it to David while we were home. (Thanks, John:) Since this is, after all, what we've frequently referred to as the "Year of Mid-Life Crisis" in our home, Ecclesiastes seemed a particularly compelling read for me. Haven't I walked around quoting "meaningless, meaningless" for six months now? I'm taking this book slowly, plodding through a few pages at a time to let myself steep in the wisdom of it. I also dowloaded The Village Church app and have been working my way through Matt Chandler's excellent (2006) 16 part series on Ecclesiastes. I highly recommend both the book and the sermons to you. I hope I'll be pondering the wisdom in both all the way through mid-life:)

"We are fundamentally active creatures. We are what we do. But Ecclesiastes says that we become more human when we are what we receive. Life is a gift, and God's Word is the most precious of gifts, to be honored and loved and treasured above all others. Ecclesiastes is one long meditation on the need to use our ears for God's Word alongside our eyes in God's world." - Gibson, Living Life Backward

In the fiction arena, I just finished Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan. While it is a fictional work, it's based on the relationship between C.S. Lewis and Joy Davidman. I found truths and intriguing ideas tucked all through it. While the story was certainly more complicated than I previously thought, it was a thoroughly enjoyable read and one that did not shy away from the very complicated nature of real life. It kept me up way too late at night too, I could hardly put it down. It's a story I'm sure I'll ponder for months to come, which in my judgement is a book worth it's salt.

I did also read Marilla of Green Gables this month. While I'd like to heartily acknowledge that it was well-written, historically researched, and undoubtedly intended as a tribute to the Anne stories, I personally did not find it a compellingly realistic picture of the Marilla created by L.M. Montgomery.  Montgomery painted a picture of a staunchly religious household where puffed sleeves would have been nonsensical and a Matthew who rarely spoke. Anne broke into their world, not as a long-awaited dream, but as a mishap that changed them. As an avid Anne fan, I perceived the liberties taken in re-creating the Cuthbert household to be too far fetched and adventuresome. I found myself annoyed throughout the book with story lines and character development that seemed particularly foreign to the characters I envisioned when reading the original work.

But I also acknowledge that it was an entertaining and enjoyable read, though perhaps as an entirely separate story.

As a sort of penance, I'm reading Kilmeny of the Orchard, a lesser-known work by Montgomery that I've never read.

After all this "female" fiction, I'm probably going to need to go pick up a war book just to balance my senses.