Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Listen Up

For about a week, I've had Elisabeth Elliot in my ipod.  And I'm loving it.  Profound truth in very practical applications.  If I had more time for this little blog this afternoon, I'd expound.  Trust me on this...and put it on your listen-to list in the next few weeks.

A few of my favorites, click for itunes link:

Hope it blesses you in deep ways.

Happy Tuesday! 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Silas, the Unstoppable

Silas is out of control.  At just 20 months, he is hitting the terrible twos with a vengeance.  We are working on obedience, with some mild success.  Let me be honest though and say I really don't feel confident that even training him not to do things is going to reduce the craziness around this little life. He's just unstoppable.

Field Example #1: I poured his bath water Sat night, then went to find him and get a towel. By the time I returned 2 minutes later, he was in the tub fully clothed. No need to wait on the fun.

 He is an explorer extraordinaire. He never stops moving. He would touch anything. And let's face it, we live in a place where there's a whole lot of weird things to touch.  Maybe I've just forgotten this phase with Jude.  Maybe Silas is hitting it harder.  Maybe the combined effect of two little boys is pushing it over the edge.

Whatever it is, I'm not really exaggerating to write that by the end of a day, between Silas, Jude and this crazy world I live in, I usually feel like I've been in a big tussle.

And I lost.

Of course, he's not all fire.  He's a whole lot of sweetness too. His latest obsession is hugging.  And that kid will hug me all day long (in between destroying things) if I'll let him.  We love him.  We really do.

Here's to Silas, the Sweet & the Unstoppable.  

Friday, November 22, 2013

Kenyan Christmas

Many moons ago, I spent a few months in an African bush town called Mbita. It is located on the Kenyan shore of Lake Victoria and remains in my memory as one of my favorite places on earth.  

There is a school there that I love.  

In the name of Christ, they have faithfully served orphans for over a decade.  Their impact is immeasurable. I got a little email this week about their Christmas project and I wanted to share it.  Maybe some of you are looking to give a creative gift this season. Here's an option for you.  Read more at the CGA blog here.  

Merry Christmas a little early! 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

like a potato

Today I had a language evaluation.  Yes, friends, I am still meeting with my language tutor about five days a week.  It's very possible that in 10 years, I'll still be meeting with my language tutor.  I'm resigned to my tortoise pace.  And I am making progress.  The last time I had an evaluation, I threw up on the side of the road on the way to the evaluation and again on the way home.  It was a landmark day.  I've come a long way. Today was pretty uneventful and the actual evaluation went fine.  I'm not a stellar speaker, and you can't change that even on test day.  But I've made progress, and I'm glad.

What will probably win me the most points on this one was my closing statement after I had a recorded conversation about "love marriages." (As opposed to arranged marriages:) I was discussing the complexity of the issue in India and I tried to say, "It has so many layers, it's like an onion."

But after I finished, my conversation parter told me I had said, "It has so many layers, it's like a potato."

Maybe the evaluator will think it's a rare and culturally adept phrase that he doesn't know.

Maybe.  But not likely:) 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Shifting Beauty

A few weeks ago hubs and I were out an about in the city.  I saw a Bollywood (Asia's movie culture) star flash across a screen.  The man in the picture was an average build Asian man, had his dark hair slicked back (with coconut oil no doubt), was wearing what would be considered pretty Asian-Western apparel, and was donning the most recent and popular style of sunglasses here.  He was in a typical "cool" pose. Two year ago, the photo probably would have made me laugh.  

Out of no where I blurted out, "I find that Bollywood star very attractive." 

David, not the jealous type, found it hilarious.  I did too.  

When did my sense of style shift so drastically? How did it happen. 

Fast forward to last week. I stood in the salon with my friend getting my sari "draped." I was admiring her thick hair and lamenting that I can never braid my hair here.  It's too thin to look even remotely nice to my neighbors. That evening, I stopped a girl so I could take a photo of her ensemble, a hand crocheted sari blouse paired with a lot of great accessories and plenty of sparkle.  I love this look. 

When we go out of the country on visa runs, I don't really enjoy wearing Western clothes as much as I did at first. I feel frumpy, out of fashion, and a bit inappropriate.  I wear kurtas, long tunic tops, most of the time here. Outside my house, a normal Old Navy tee without at least a scarf feels just plain weird. South Asians rarely wear black, they prefer color.  I used to feel chic in black.  Now I just feel bland.  

What's happening to me? 

My concept of beauty is being shifted by the culture around me.  I find this phenomenon fascinating.  As an American, whose primary identity for many years was in my own cultural home, it seems like it would take longer to notice a shift.  But two years in, I can already see a fairly noteworthy influence. 

I'm just warning you now, so if I come home donning kurtas, flowers in my hair and bangles up my arms, accompanied by a mustached and slicked back David....you'll know what happened. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Wedding Re-cap

Before I move forward into real time here on the blog, I wanted to share a few of my favorite parts of our wedding extravaganza last week.  We were there as guests of a close friend of mine.  Her brother was the groom, and as friend of his sister, we were pretty much considered family.  It was an all-out three day celebration.  

 Here's a pic of the happy couple.  Truth be told, they only smiled "with their teeth" because I was taking the pictures.  Asians almost always give the old school no-teeth pose for shots.  This was toward the end and that bride had to be totally worn out.  We're talking multiple outfit changes, more rituals than I could possibly describe, and enough photos to fill an encyclopedia.

One of the best parts for us was the traditional regional food.  It's way less spicy than in our neck of the woods, and the breakfast was served on a banana leaf! Maybe it doesn't look too appealing on a picture but trust me...there's not much better than coconut chutney and a little idli to start the day off right.

Of course, I have to throw in our very fun side-trip to see some old college friends.  I was in Jonathan and Melissa's wedding over 10 years ago and now they're just a train ride away living a wild life in this wild country with us.  It's a small world! A good chat on an old friend's couch always does my heart good.

As for our means of transportation, let's just say the train was a hit with the boys.  Jude loved it, and was a pretty happy camper throughout.  Silas, as we anticipated, did want to jump off a few times.  But we made it, and David's biceps are better than when we started.

Hubs and I didn't exactly get a great night's sleep. We each had a boy in the bunk with us, and we're talking narrow.  I confess that a friend warned me before the journey of kidnapping. Argh. Though that would be a pretty rare occurrence, neither of us could rest long with out checking to make sure the kids were still there! All in all, we're glad we went.  We're glad it's over! 

That's the skinny on our big adventure last week. More on my cultural take-aways later!  

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Night Train

It's Tuesday.  The day we've been waiting for all month. Tonight we board the "night train" and head cross country for a wedding.  I'm not gonna lie.  I've been having trouble catching my breath all week.  The tickets are purchased though. The RSVP confirmed. I had a new bright red sari made. The bags are packed. The kids are napping. And I feel just plain nervous about putting my banshees on a 12 hour train ride in the middle of asia. What if Silas jumps overboard?

What if I jump overboard?

Ready or not, here we go.

Pictures forthcoming...though maybe not for a few days!

Friday, November 8, 2013


There are some perks to living on this side.  When I notice them, I always like to say them out loud. Here's my happy observation for today.

This week we had a family night.  We went to the Botanic Gardens. We jumped on their enclosed trampoline. We called ahead at our favorite Chinese place and put in our order.  When we arrived, the table was set and the food was ready.  After dinner, we stopped into a little yogurt place that just opened that has a bean bag and disco lighting.  We shared a cup of black currant and came away satisfied.

When we totaled up our fun: it was less than $10.  Yep.  You read that right, less than $10 for a full night of food and fun for our family of 4.  Now, if we go to the super-western places, that would be doubled or tripled. But on nights when we stay local, it's a good deal.

There are plenty of perks on this side.  I love to find 'em. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

kids & goats

There are a few new friends in our life this week. Meet ChiChi, Jude's "baby goat." Yes, it's a coat hanger.  ChiChi is pictured here eating grass and leaves in the car while we went to church.  This was a last stitch effort to keep ChiChi from coming on inside with us. 

Here, ChiChi is looking out the window, while Jude "drives" the car.  

My mom sent us a little video about a girl who wants a dog.  Her parents refuse.  So she pretends her roller skate is a puppy and shows those parents just how well she can care for that rolling puppy. In the end, she gets the dog. 

Thankfully, we don't have any roller skates and goats are a lot easier to refuse than puppies. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Toby Mac

Have I ever mentioned to you to that Jude is obsessed with the old Toby Mac song "I Don't Want To Gain The Whole World?" He can sing every word. And it's absolutely hilarious.  Here's a sneak peek:  

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


I have been reading Keep A Quiet Heart again.  It just always does my soul good.  Here's a great quote following her description of a mother trying to get out the door on Sunday.  It was the perfect quote for me this week.  

On our Sunday morning, we loaded up the banshees and fought the cows and cars on the way to church. We sat in the children's room, where the word wild looks mild.  Towards the end, Silas stood by the door, in front of about 40 other parents, screaming to get out of the room.  I went and picked him up, and he threw up all over me.  Right there in front of all those asian parents.  I tried to catch it in my scarf (which, by the way, is an asian lady's symbol of purity). It didn't work out that well.  

So with all those anxious eyes on me, because asian parents are oh-so-serious about sick babies, no doubt to their horror, I started laughing.  The absurdity of the whole situation just overtook me.  That little scenario could pretty much sum up our week.  Here is what E. Elliot writes about such unexpected Sunday morning interruptions.  It has helped me this week. 

But everything in this scene is the King's business, which he looks on in loving sympathy and understanding, for, as Baron Von Hugel said, "The chain of cause and effect which makes up human life, is bisected at every point by a vertical line relating us and all we do to God." This is what He has given us to do, this task here on earth, not the task we aspired to do, but this one.  The absurdities involved cut us down to size.  The great discrepancy between what we envisioned and what we've got force us to be real. And God is our great Reality, more real than the realest of earthly conditions, an unchanging Reality. It is His providence that has put us where we are.  It's where we belong.  It is for us to receive it - all of it - humbly, quietly, thankfully.  (p.228)