Sunday, June 23, 2013

indispensable me

I am leaving tomorrow for a week at a village orphanage. It's time to take this language learning to the next level, and immersion is a good way to do it. (Not to mention required by our language program:) Hubs and the boys will be holding steady in the city, away from overly zealous cheek pinchers and extra spicy dal. As you might imagine, we thought I'd be a little more focused alone. With two wild boys, the only language I'm usually caught speaking is something like "please don't lick that," or "wait, don't jump!"

I'll be honest though. The thought of boarding that train for a week without my banshees and sweet hubs makes me just plain sad. I love them. I will miss them. Hubs is fantastic, and I know he'll do a great job.  But I like my "usual" job of sippy cup refills and playground duty. As I went to my knees about all the emotion that is accompanying the thought of leaving, I realized that a part of the ache is linked to a little lie: That I am indispensable.

It's a hard line in motherhood to meet the needs of little people day after day, to bring the food to the table, change the diapers, sing them to sleep, and still remember that I am made up of dust. My ability to fill them up is limited. The sustenance of their lives is not me, it's God. I am not indispensable.

Am I loved? Am I cherished? Am I their only true mother? Do I have responsibility of them? Is my influence over them profound? Of course. I don't want to diminish that.

But it's an important exercise for me to acknowledge my role in their lives. Not as an all-powerful and all-sufficient sustainer. But as a mother given to them by God to care for them and teach them. It is perhaps ironic for this reminder to come on the cusp of this trip, for I am going among orphans. Many without mothers. And yet sustained, by God's grace.

I will miss my boys this week.  I hope they will miss me a bit too.

Let me go out in humility though, knowing that there is One who cares for them with more tenderness, more power and greater provision than I could ever bring.

He is that kind of God.  Father to the fatherless.  Protector of the widow.  The One who spins clothes for flowers and gives provision to the tiny sparrow.

He cares.


(Talk to you next week:) 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

fit to burst

I am lovin' Round Two with Rachel Jankovic in Fit to Burst.  (Check out Loving the Little Years for Round One:) A kind friend (thank you Mrs. H!) sent it all the way from Memphis a month or two ago.  I admit that I'm already re-reading it.

Here's a little excerpt (pardon the snips, trying to keep it short:) that's been in my mind today:
But there is another category of stress that is not connected to your sin, or even to worry.  This is the kind of stress that just makes you tired.  It can be caused by lots of people pulling on your pant leg, asking for drinks, being anxious about when dinner is coming....Nothing is wrong.  Oftentimes I will know it's true that nothing's wrong, but I feel so "stressed" because there is so much to do, so much that isn't done.  That kind of stress is simply the ambient noise of faithfulness.... 
What I mean by ambient noise is not just the soothing sound of waves in the background.  It is more like you are a basketball player on the free-throw line, and the other team's fans are getting all the noisemakers out.  When all that screaming and honking and waving and shouting insults is going on, it doesn't mean that you are doing something wrong. IT means there is a lot of noise in the room hoping you will do something wrong.  Some kinds of "stress" are simply what happens when you are being faithful... 
Every good coach would want his players to be strong in the fundamentals.  Don't come to a standstill and hold your ears at the first honk of a random kazoo.... 
...the ambient noise doesn't matter - the background whistles aren't your job.  Your job is right here, and you know how to do it.  All the noise isn't a reason to stop doing what you are supposed to be doing.   
Someone once said, very wisely, that we need to imitate the psalmist: We need to spend less time listening to ourselves, and more time talking to ourselves. Like the psalmist saying, "Oh my soul why are you grieving? Why disquieted in me? Hope in God, your faith retrieving, He will still your refuge be" (Ps 42) He is giving himself a pep talk.  He is counseling himself with what he knows to be true in a time that doesn't feel smooth. 

I will let you guess where my ambient noise comes from on most days, but this little analogy is helping me think about faithfulness in the midst.

If you haven't read it yet, pick it up!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

play me a tune

I've been thinking today about how interesting every street corner is here.  There's always something new to see.  Sometimes I wonder if I'd be bored in America with shopping malls and drive thru restaurants.  Asia has this fantastic diversity that is absolutely untamed. Most of the streets are filled with a lot more than just cars. Shops are tiny and gems take some searching. Color, bustle, life is everywhere.  Of course, part of that feel of diversity is from my western lens, but nonetheless, I love it!    

Last week, hubs and I went to a nearby restaurant for a curry buffet.  Delicious.  (and more than a little spicy!) Outside was this asian version of a violinist, playing some serious melancholy tunes on a crazy instrument I have never seen before.  

I'm heading to the music shop soon to see if I can get another demonstration.  
I'll keep you posted.  

Monday, June 17, 2013

Monday Miscellany

1. This weekend a dear friend got married.  A friend so sweet and precious that I admit I've shed more than a few tears over the distance.  We wanted to be there so badly.  She was thoughtful, and our friends very kind to take care of the details...and we skyped into the ceremony.  We were so glad to be "witnesses" to their vows. It was beautiful.  Such a reminder of the gospel. Congratulations Stacey and Scott!

Afterward...we had our own "photo booth" session in honor of their big day.

  2. The weather is finally cooling off here.  Just when it's heating up for most of you.  I am in full swing putting "comfort" foods on the table.  Chili, soups, etc. Yesterday I tried a new Chicken and Dumplings recipe.  It was a hit all around.  Definitely a repeat. Link up here. 

3. Haircuts are generally a fiasco.  At the salon, it takes an average of 3 asian men to hold the boys in place. We decided to try it at home this time.  We made a series of unfortunate decisions. By the end, our neighbors thought we were torturing the kids, hair was strewn from one end of the house to the next, and this momma was more than a little snappy.  Hubs held it together though, and in the end, it was a success. 


4. School is back in business. Jude rode the bus for the first time today. I fully anticipated an all out scene at the drop off.  To my utter amazement, he popped right in his seat, buckled up, smiled and waved. Considering his history, it was nothing short of a miracle.  I hope that's one phase we've left behind for good! 

That's all the miscellany I can muster on this Monday morning! 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to the men in our world who are teaching these little boys day by day how to grow into strong, hard working, kind and compassionate, men of character. I really could not ask for better examples to show the path.  We love you guys!

Happy Father's Day! 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

chef hubs

Have I ever told you that since our move overseas, hubs has become a significant contributor to my kitchen world? His homemade dessert skills have sky-rocketed, he can make a mean dinner of hoppin' johns and rice, and he's taken to filling my freezer once every month or two with spaghetti sauce from scratch.  A jar of Ragu is $5, putting a damper on quick and easy spaghetti dinners. Fresh tomatoes are comparatively inexpensive though.  Here's the freezer recipe David's been using for a few months now.  I add a cup of tomato paste, some water and meat or eggplant and wah-lah, a fast favorite.

Stephanie’s Freezer Spaghetti Sauce

  1. 4 onions, chopped
  2. 4 cloves garlic, minced
  3. 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  4. 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  5. 16 cups chopped tomatoes
  6. 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  7. 2 tablespoons dried basil
  8. 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  9. 1/4 cup white sugar
  10. 2-3 tablespoons salt (sometimes it needs more)
  11. 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  12. 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste

  1. In a slow cooker saute together the onion, garlic, green pepper, and vegetable oil. Cook until onion is transparent.
  2. Add the chopped tomatoes, oregano, basil, parsley, sugar, salt, and ground black pepper. Cook for 2 to 3 hours on low heat. Stir frequently.
  3. Let sauce cool. Pour sauce into quart size freezer containers. Store in freezer.
  4. When ready to use sauce, stir in can of tomato paste.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

responsibility & trust

School is back in session. Today we went for an hour, to hear Goldilocks (which was also being translated in Hindi on the side:), sing a few nursery rhymes, and eat dried mango bits.  Jude spent most of the morning hiding behind my legs or sitting in my lap.  On the inside though, I think he enjoyed it. When the bus riding starts next week, I've no doubt there'll be some serious tears.  But we'll make it.

After class, I walked out into the lobby. His school is in a building that is still under construction. This is not really unusual around here. In fact, most of the country we live in, is still under construction. Apparently, they've been working on the elevators.  I peered over the flimsy board they used to keep out the kids, and saw a 40-60 ft drop into the shaft.  Nothing much holding that board over the door.   When I walked downstairs, where the kids get off the bus, there wasn't even a board.  Just some metal facing for a workman to stand on, with kid-sized gaps on the sides.  Sigh.  I had some mom-drama going on in my mind.  My 3 year old, down the shaft. 

So I came home and wrote a firm email to the principal.  And I fully expect it to be taken care of by the time I get there tomorrow.  Or hubs will be up there with blocks and boards to take care of it himself.  We have a good history with this school, and I am sure we can work something out.  

But it unnerved me. 

I live in a place where my life or my children's lives, pretty literally, flash before my eyes a minimum of 1-2x per week. One of the (only) good things that has come out of a sue-happy America is a propensity to make all public (and private) areas as safe as possible.  That is not the case in most of the world though.  And there are open elevator shafts and wild rickshaw rides to prove it. 

It drew me to my knees.  It was an insightful moment for me, to look at this great tension that lives in me between trusting God and taking responsibility.  If I don't address an open elevator shaft at pre-school, I'm probably just shirking responsibility, not "trusting" that everything will be ok.  But it's a tricky issue for parents.  It touches the big things right down to the hand sanitizing fanatics and grocery cart covers for your baby.  We do have a responsibility over these little people in our care. What does that mean though? 

I cannot safe guard their lives enough to keep them from harm.  It is not possible. 

If I could, at the loss of living anywhere but in a bubble, would I? Would that be better for them than the risk of living?

At a very fundamental level, I have to trust that God has written their days in His book, before time began.  No step of theirs will ever go unseen by Him.  He never sleeps.  He never looks away.  He is a protector and keeper.  He gives, and sometimes, he takes.  

Will I always make the best and most responsible choices for my boys? No. I won't.  I'll try. But I am just not that powerful and knowing. 

But is He ever trustworthy? He is.  From the beginning to this present moment, and forever.  

He is. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


My mother in law has given me a lot of beautiful things through the years. But my favorites are always the vintage. The ones David used when he was small. See the little metal cup? Generational dawkins, and I love it!

Friday, June 7, 2013

the age of destruction

David went to an all night wedding on Saturday for a friend. It was the man reception.  That means that a bunch of guys were dancing like it was high school prom, only bollywood style, and David was right in the middle of it.  The car ride to and from is another post entirely.  Let's just say, he looked a little culture shocked upon his 5am return.

That all-nighter was followed by a trip out of the city.

The boys and I were livin' it up: pulling out the play doh, going to the mall, the pool, the playground, a bike ride, visiting friends.  Pretty much anything to keep them occupied.  Boredom is our fierce enemy.

Somewhere near the end though, when my energy was flagging, and theirs was still so strong, I started to feel a sort of panic.  Everywhere I turned, they were just destroying things.  My clean floor, destroyed by cinnamon and sugar.  My drawer of pots, turned into a haphazard drum set.  The puzzles we put together, strewn across the couch cushions which had mysteriously become launch pads.

And all I could see, when I looked at those excited little boys of mine, was destruction.    I wanted to go out on the balcony and scream, "They're messing up all my stuff."  I wanted to tie them in chairs.  Put them to bed at 5pm. Anything to restrain their boundless energy.

Thankfully, when my thoughts started moving toward those extremes, I realized something in me was going awry. I was valuing a clean, tidy, controlled house over my healthy, hearty, adventurous little boys. They weren't sinning.  In fact, I hadn't uttered a reasonable parental command since the panic set in...only complaints and sighs. They were just being boys.  Boys that I'm in charge of.

I could turn on the tv and sedate them a bit.  The mess would be less.  I could put them in the car and distract them with a drive.  Or I could let them live in our house. The house that I want to be a home, not a polished display. I could embrace the work before me with joy, or give into the panic.

This is the age of destruction in the Dawkins house.  Sometimes it feels a little crazy.  But I'm working on my perspective.  I don't want tidy children.  I want these creative, energetic, affectionate ones.

I want to see them, not the mess. 

And in this age of destruction, I've not doubt they'll provide me plenty of practice to learn the lesson well, whenever I am willing:) 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

coconut & chilis

When I arrived at my language class today, Srlathe was working on a curry for tonight.  Coconut and a mile high mound of green chilis.

Sounds like fire on a plate to me. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

read to me

A few of our bedtime favorites lately:

1. The Berenstain Bears (any and all:)
2. Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle
3. Blueberries for Sal by McClosky
4. My Truck is Stuck by Lewis & Kirk
5. Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site by Rinker

Monday, June 3, 2013

return to facebook

We are back on facebook.  And I feel like it's monumental enough to write about.  We made our exit almost two years ago and if I'm honest, we just haven't missed it that much. Of course, we missed seeing fun pictures of people and knowing peculiar tidbits from their lives.  But we were the kind of people who would get messages 3 weeks after someone wanted to stay over when they were in town.  Or randomly miss comments or posts that we really should have known about.  It's just never been a site that we've used as a serious form of communication.  Consequently, we were always feeling behind.  Because the phenomenon is, a lot of people do use it as a serious form of communication. There's nothing wrong with that, we just never did.  

There were a lot of good reasons why we signed off, more complex and loaded than I prefer to discuss here.  It was a good decision.  And when I look at all the time it probably gave us back, it's not one that I regret.  I confess to asking friends to update me at times on the happenings of friends I'd otherwise not know much about...and usually, it felt pretty sufficient.

But here we are, two years later, signing back on.

A few of you have seen our comeback and asked the inevitable question: Why?

The very simplest (and pretty much only) answer is that my little sister asked me to.

She wants me to see daily pictures of her sweet little girls.  The best way for her to share those with me is right there on that site.  So I said 'ok,' because I love my sister and I love her girls. And her request represented a world of other people that I love too and would like to see when I can.  So we'll just have to find ways to deal with all those complex and loaded reasons we signed off initially.  If we can't, well then, I guess we'll just hop off again down the road.

For those of you who have been wanting to make an exit for a while, let me just say that you might not miss it as much as you think you will.  It was a good break for us.  And I might as well add, I doubt our habits will change much this time around. I'm predicting we'll still be fb slackers....but at least I can see those nieces when I do sign in!  So if you happen to be stopping by South Asia to see us...probably don't send the message via facebook:)

Welcome back to our life.