Thursday, April 25, 2013

Living Torn

The more trips I make to Guatemala, the more frequently I want to return.  After my first trip I told my husband that I would be very disappointed if I couldn't return the next year.  Just two months after the second trip we planned a return trip with our whole family.  Now we are planning several business projects around one sacred week in September when we can return on a fourth trip.  If money, time, and home responsibilities were no issue, I think I would be there several times, maybe months, a year.  But that is where reality hits.  We have a budget, jobs, and a family.  We can't take the girls from school on a whim and I can't abscond my responsibilities as a wife, mother, or business owner.

It's like living a double life.  There is the American Kelly who spends her time taking care of her family and working.  Then there's the Guatemalan Kelly who spends her time taking care of her family and working...  Yes I do see what I just wrote!  I just realized that I am doing the same core jobs both places but in different ways.  I never thought of it like that!

At home, I support my husband and children.  You know, the typical American wife and mother--cook, clean, homework...  I go to work most days (unless I have completely revolted and I stay in my pajamas all day and work from home, that's the benefit of being the boss' wife) to help provide the means to support our family and to support the projects that are so dear to us. 

In Guatemala, it's like the pressure releases.  We work while we're there but the layers of deadlines disappear.  We are there to help people and the goal is to do as much as we can as God provides.  Just like our latest trip, we didn't get everything done that we wanted while there but instead we met a family that we all love dearly.  Our second chicken coop was built and delivered after we left but that wasn't what we were supposed to do.  My family in Guatemala may not be biological but they are just as important to me.

The key is the balance between a content life in America and making a difference in Guatemala.  I can't abandon where God has placed me (in America) for Guatemala because I might just be missing out on a mission right where I am. 

I need to be in both places to complete my mission!  (Even if it seems less stressful in Guatemala)


I need to say thanks to someone, I just don't know who!  I came home Tuesday from work and someone had taken the time to plant flowers in our yard. 

It's a start to helping it look better.  Here's what we saw out the window at supper last night.

Thanks for the pick-me-up!

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Anthem of Good Parenting

As the mother of an official Tween, I'm learning that she is growing exponentially smarter and cooler every day.  We are nearing the point where she will announce herself smarter and cooler than me!  The little girl who was always so eager to help is being replaced with the one who is eager to help if it's a job she likes, she feels like it, and if it pays. 

Since they were small, our kids have had chores.  Now we've even added the opportunity for jobs, which are different than chores.  We define chores as the tasks that help to keep our family running--making beds, folding clothes, putting away dishes--you know, the daily stuff.  Chores are the way that we all work together for our household.  Jobs are those tasks that are above the usual kid duties and would just be great to have help with--weeding the flower beds, sorting bolts, shoveling snow--the extras that usually fall on the parent list. 

Work is nothing new to our children but the cooler you get, apparently the more you need to whine about the idea of work.  Just this evening as I asked our daughter to put dishes away and clean up the playroom, that familiar sound started again--you know, the one that sounds like a far off calf moaning.  She doesn't refuse, just a little sound to officially register her complaint. 

Tonight was different though, as she whined I had a new thought.  Because I love my daughter and want her to have a healthy respect, appreciation, and sense of responsibility for her life I am going to love that sound.  If I caved in every time she didn't want to do something I would be teaching her to be entitled--to parents who cater to her, to the ability to skirt responsibility, to a life of leisure without concern for anything around her.  Because I love my daughter, I am going to do my best to teach her to be a responsible young woman. 

So now, that faint calf moan in the distance sound will be My Anthem of Good Parenting! 

Doing what is best for her even when she wants the world to know that she'd rather be playing Legos!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Just One Friend

Much of my childhood was spent as an outsider.  I remember always being the third wheel in our small church class because the other two girls were cousins.  We had few friends who lived near us and my best friend moved in middle school.  I can vividly remember being mocked in elementary school because we lived on a farm.  I have tried to shed those memories while learning enough to make sure that my children have a community to support them.  I don't want them to feel alone.

As we were walking through the village in Guatemala my friend and I were talking about the family receiving a new home,--a single mother with 7 children.  She makes a minimal income washing clothes for other village residents.  The youngest daughter, Kimberly was so excited that we were visiting them.

The truth is that Kimberly doesn't have friends.  She and her siblings don't go to the school--they can't afford uniforms and school supplies.  Instead they wash clothes with her mother during the day.  They are always dirty and her youngest brother had head lice.  None of the other children wanted to play with them.

Having someone want to play with her was new for Kimberly.  She was so excited that another child would spend time with her.  For once she wasn't an outsider.  I hope that those couple days gave her a glimpse of how special she is.  She was beautifully made by a God that loves her, even when she is alone.

I hope that these experiences help teach my children that everyone is worthy of being loved.  Just because of where we were born, we aren't better than anyone else.  If we avoided those who aren't like us, we would truly be missing out on some of the most memorable experiences of our lives.

Pretty Little Weeds

We don't live in the world of a well manicured lawn and perfectly designed flower garden.  There was a point several years ago when I tried to carefully design my flowerbeds each year and keep them looking beautiful.  I had designed planting beds so that I could have fresh cut flowers all spring and summer.  Then reality struck!  We have 3 kids, 2 businesses and a busy life.  Now we have a weed invested yard, flowerbeds with only perennials and weeds, and no planting bed.  Not ideal but that's where we're at. 

I've been thinking about an update to our yard space to help me feel like I can enjoy our home again.  The minimalist look isn't helping my mood and doesn't help me to enjoy God's beauty either.  Apparently my daughter thought we needed an upgrade as well. 


Who would have thought that some weeds in a jelly jar could change the whole mood of our home?  I guess sometimes it's the little things that can be that little bit of joy at just the right time.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

There Really Is Nothing on TV

As we were all sitting at a table eating breakfast in Antigua I noticed just how my daughters speak.  They don't even realize the tone of their voices or their facial expressions.  I know that we hold a large portion of the responsibility for their mannerisms.  As I watched that morning though I started to see the characters of my daughters' favorite tv shows coming out as they talked.  They were using expressions from the teenage characters, rolling their eyes, and shaking their heads.  Where are my cute, innocent girls?  I am not ready for dramatic teens.

I have been struggling for months with the tv shows that my daughters watch.  They are in a No Man's Land of tv programming.  They are too old for their brother's cartoons and too young for the tween dramas after school.  There just doesn't seem to be shows that are engaging for young women while not exposing them to topics or ideas that are too mature for them.  I don't want my elementary age daughters to start thinking about kissing boys or dating.  Already we had to talk about the kids in the second grade who are "dating."  I don't want them to laugh along with the tv when they make fun of the "ugly" sister's appearance.  I don't want them to think that it's ok to sneak behind your parents' back or openly defy our authority. 

I really want my kids to be able to stay young and innocent for as long as possible.  At the same time I need to answer their questions about life because if I don't someone else will.  I don't want my kids to think that the ways of this world and culture are the way that God wants us to live our life.  I need to raise confident daughters who are able to defend their beliefs and not be embarrassed by the difference in their lives.  We are told that we will be different than the world but we must be attractive to those we are called to minister to.  We need to be different for good reasons.  I know what it was like to be uncool as a child.  I don't want the kids to feel like an outcast but I don't want them to be a part of the crowd either.

John 15:19  "The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you."

The answer for now is using the DVR for The Cosby Show and one acceptable tween show.  So far they are playing outside more, building cool Lego towns, and playing Mario Brothers with their father.  They don't seem to miss the tv too much--yet.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Spoiled Rich Americans

Everything that I do today reminds me of how spoiled I am.  I slept in my big comfy bed last night.  (which I really did miss)  I used my bathroom that is right beside my bedroom, not outside.  I drove the girls to school in my nice car. 

We talked about how great it would be if Andreas could home with us on one of our trips to see America.  As I think about that idea I am uneasy about how much we have compared to his family.  How would he react if he saw the luxury of where we live?  How can we explain our excess to those who have so little? 

Even driving home from school this morning made me think of San Antonio.  We have wide streets with parking on both sides.  They have streets that barely allow for two cars to pass.  We have lawns and space where they have eroded dirt and metal for fences between lots. 

What's most enviable about Guatemala is that they are so content and happy in their homes.  Without the distractions of American life, our kids easily played and made memories that are priceless. 

We have to balance our lives with providing for the needs of those who are not as fortunate.  We have seen the needs of those in Guatemala and it is now our responsibility to help them.  If we don't share our experiences we are slighting the families who mean so much to us.

Proverbs 24:12 "Don't excuse yourself by saying, "Look, we didn't know." For God understands all hearts, and he sees you. He who guards your soul knows you knew. He will repay all people as their actions deserve."

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Being in the Right Place

Today was our last work day.  Guatemala time isn't the same as American time which also isn't the same as Mission trip with three small children time.  When we first started our projects I was disappointed because we weren't on schedule.  (I know, obsessive compulsive from the beginning.)  When we went to pick up the lumber for the chicken coop, it wasn't cut.  It was easy to see that we weren't going to get 2 completed during our time here.  I was honestly disappointed that weren't getting enough done. 

What's more amazing than I can describe is how God puts us where we need to be to meet those he wants us to meet.  If it wasn't Semana Santa and most everything was closed the lumber would have been available.  If the lumber was finished, Brandon wouldn't have worked with Don Andreas and his sons.  If Brandon hadn't enjoyed his time so well with them, we might have allowed them to finish while we worked on another project.

We were meant to be with that family.  We all have a unique connection with them.  Brandon enjoyed working with Don Andreas and his sons.  I loved building but also learning from Donachica.  Caroline adopted Donachica and spent hours weaving with her.  Isaiah and Paola raced trucks down a wood ramp.  Aubrey was like me, she liked to do feel at home and be with everyone.  She helped build, played with Paola, and hung out with Sadie.

This is our Guatemalan family.  They are forever in our lives.  Before we had even left, they were asking when we'll be back.  Going to their house felt like home.  We will visit them again, every time we return.  I just need to figure out how to keep in touch in between visits.

We got a call this evening while at supper.  Donachica had worked all evening to finish the wall hanging that she and Caroline had weaved. They rode the bus from San Antonio to Antigua just to meet us so we had the gift before we left.  When they arrived, not only did they have the wall hanging but they also brought a wooden truck that they had made for Isaiah.  Mynor had enjoyed having the kids at their home so much over the last few days that he had gotten Aubrey a gift as well. 

We were meant to come during Semana Santa, not be on our American schedule with American expectations, and meet a very special addition to our lives.