Thursday, November 30, 2006

"It's my turn to speak, speak ,speak....." Reverb implied

He stood on his chair, there was an air of both timidity and authority in his voice. Neither he- nor his listeners were sure, whether his words were a mandate or a question. He held his head high, and slowly crossed and uncrossed his arms before his chest. Almost as if he were Moses, holding out his staff to part the red sea.

"It's my turn to speak. speak. speak..." His voice lowered in volume on each repeat. He had become his own sound system, complete with re-verb.

He, is four. His name is Noah. The chair, was at our kitchen table.

Attention. We all need it, but we're not as clear in our communication of that need as Noah!

As a mom of three boys- Mike-17, Matt-14, and Noah- 4. Around out dinner table, also sits myself, and The Missional Dad. (Kyle) Dinner time, (which varies greatly based on Missional Dad's schedule) is a time for us to connect, talk about our day and be together.

It's also chaotic. In addition to being hungry,(teen boys are ALWAYS hungry) we each arrive at the table, excited to "speak, speak, speak". Sometimes it' s hard to get a word in edge-wise.

Missional Dad and I try to make sure that each one gets a turn to talk. But- occasionally, someone ends up feeling over looked. That's how Noah ended up standing on his chair.

Dividing attention,so each family member has an opportunity to talk, is just plain hard. It is at other times too. It seems that in most families, there are "talkers" and "quiet ones". It's imperative thst each one gets a chance to talk. It is equally important, that each one learns to listen. Dinner time is a great time to connect, and practice!

Some tips for family-talk time (around the dinner table or otherwise)

1) Ask questions to draw quieter family members into the conversation.
Specific questions generally will provide more discussion than general ones, especially with

  • What are you working on in math?
  • Who did you sit near on the bus?
  • How was lunch?
  • How was your day. and what did you do at school today? are notoriously answered with shrugged shoulders and "nothing" as their only answer!
2) Demand respect of each other at the table. (With an age spread of 4-17, it's important that each ones topics are respected..... The little one's discussion of Sponge Bob's newest episode, needs to be listened to as much as the oldests discussion of Russian spies and dangerous internet buying of pulonium...)

3) Adults are to be respected and listened too, as well. This isn't JUST a time for kids to talk. (However- this is a time for family appropriate discussion, couples need other time to speak, speak speak... without little -or not so little- ears.)

4) Everyone gets a turn. Don't wait for someone to stand on a chair!

Now- don't get me wrong- all is not politics and Sponge-Bob....around our table. The testoserone ocassionally must be reigned in, as talk and food leads to.... gulping of air, and well- the things that follow;)

The boys have frequently reminded me that belching after a good meal, is a compliment in some cultures. To which I always reply. "Not, this one"

Questions to think about...

  • Do you have time to talk as a family? Jesus, took time to talk to His disciples. He listened to their questions, and gave answers that were understandable. When we take time tpo both listen and 'speak speak speak" we are communicating God's love and value to our families, by our actions.
  • How balanced is your family communication? Do you need to encourage other members to talk? Are there sometimes, when a "talker" may need to be reminded to give others a turn?
  • Are there other natural times of communication, that your family shares? (driving time, before the bus, etc?)
  • Noah has made his need abundantly clear to his family. "It's my turn to speak, speak speak..." In what ways do your family members communicate this need?

The research is clear. Families that take (make) time to eat together, around a family table, are healthier- both individually, and as a unit. If it's hard for your family to eat together, are there ways that you could change this?

(My husband travels- and often works long hours. When he travels, we still eat together at the table, when he's late- everyone has snacks then we eat together when Dad gets home)

Kids schedules also be nuts these days. It's important for families not to sacrifice relationship time, for activity time.... manu families, set a limit of activities that cut into family time, say one activity per child per quarter.... what do you do?

Dear Lord- I pray that we'd, first and foremost, be listening to your voice- God I pray that I'll listen, so you'll not need to stand on a chair to get MY attention. I also pray that we'd learn to live your love incarnationally, giving love and attention, as well as discipline and instruction at the table, to our children, at the table and at all times- I love you Lord and thank you for the priviledge of being a Mom- amen.

thnxgiving at home;) 001

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The first Missionary I ever met.....

The first missionary I ever met..shipped home huge crates and boxes- from where ever he was.... I know missionaries usually receive boxes, but this one was different.

The boxes were always full of surprises. Exotic surprises that dazzled us and taught us about the land where my Grandparents were living.

For a year- the boxes arrived postmarked : Tehran, Iran. Those boxes were full of brass camels and ornate brass trays, sparkling embroidered veils, traditional Iranian clothes and the softest silk persian rug I've ever touched. There was a huge brass samovar, which, although never used- still sits in it's place of honor. There was a three legged, brass stool that is to this day, causing children to fall over.(Children+ three legged stool= not good.)

For another year- the crates and boxes were marked "Seoul, South Korea". They contained mother of pearl- inlaid black lacquer-ware and art from Korea. This was all nestled among bright colored silk robes and custom made suits. "The best tailoring in the world" The missionary exclaimed.

There were boxes from Equador, these held a conglomeration of interesting artifacts. Most memorable, (some possibly smuggled through customs) and a story of salt-water fishing- with a native guide, that resulted in a record catch marlin, that "fed the whole village"....

Even the time he spent in the Southwest of the United States, brought shipping crates. They contained silver jewelry and handwoven Native-American pieces, pottery and yes- even a set of bison horns.

The missionary saw each culture he encountered- as one to become involved with and to experience.

When the missionary returned home, (which he always did, eventually;) He regaled with stories of the people he had met and come to love. He absorbed the cultures where he had visited. And like a squeezed sponge- he shared them on his return. He grew to love the people, even if he didn't always understand them.

The most interesting fact about this missionary? He wasn't a Christian. (at the time) I suppose you could say he was a missionary of business. But- a missionary just the same. (He went to other places- learned their cultures, grew in understanding and respect for them, and then shared what he had with them. Which is really what missionaries do, isn't it? What he shared with them, just happened to be business related)

He was-also, a wonderful grandfather.

I know- because he was mine. I am convinced, that this is where my love for people of different cultures, started to grow. I remember sitting on edge, listening to the stories of meetings in Tehran where soldiers stood guard on the tops of ancient walls. (At the time we didn't know how dangerous it would soon become for Americans in Tehran- This was just a bit before the hostage crisis in the 70's) I remember my aunt's (she was still living at home and went with my grandparents) letters about teaching English to Iranian children. I remember the hours (and hours) of slide shows viewed in the basement.

I remember thinking... "Someday, I'll go to exotic places and meet new people and see new things..."

Little did I know- that my taste for these things- could be satisfied, right here, at home.

Somedays- if I walk down my street, I can smell dinner cooking, as I walk past my neighbors yards. There are scents of curries and lamb on the grills, in addition to the more American fare of ribs and hotdogs. The world has changed- where we once had to travel far to experience other cultures, we now just need to walk down the street, or travel to the next town over.

Near the end of his life- my grandfather experienced another and even more exciting adventure. He met Jesus. He grew to know and love God. It was another, new experience. One that changed not just his perspective (as did his travels) but his life.

Sometimes, I wonder--what would have happened had he not gotten so sick with cancer. I wonder, if he would have continued to travel, with a new purpose? Would he have become a missionary for Christ, instead of for business? I suppose it's possible. (he'd already "retired" from 2 different jobs, I doubt he would have stopped- traveling- had he not become ill)

I know this much for sure....

All along God had a plan that He was fulfilling, in my Grandfathers life, long before my Grandfather ever knew it. He was teaching us both a love for people, both those who are like us- and those who live differently. He was teaching me- through my Grandfather's example, that people are to be respected, and appreciated as they are, same or different from us as they may be.

Funny- but after all these years- I realize, God had been preparing me to be a Missional Mom... my whole life....

Dear Lord- I pray that you'd help me to be a missionary- right here- where I'm at. Help me to love your people, to learn about them, their cultures, their struggles and concerns, help me to share the love I have learned and received from you, with each one I meet....Oh... and Lord? Thanks for such an awesome Grandfather. I love you Lord- amen.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Idols of Motherhood....

Today- I have a question for you.... What are the idols you've run into in motherhood? In working on mmy writing project, it seems important to be able to contextualize the Gospel in Motherhood- first thing up? Identify the inter-cultural and trans-cultural idols we face as Moms.. Here is my list so far:
We sometimes worship---(hold invaluable, most valuable sometimes even in place of God...)

I don’t have it, God does. Over what happens to my child or what my child does. Our ideal future for our children- Being Godlike- our children are designed by God- not ours to re-create.
The idea that Income=Value- Mothers have value apart from their financial contribution.
Independence- I can do it all, all by myself- No one can, that’s why God gives us each other.
Our Children’s accomplishments- My child is my report card- Jesus is my righteousness
Our Childrens choices- My child is my second chance- God is your second chance… I wish I would have, My parents never…
Our ability to be a perfect parent- I can’t be a good enough parent- Nope, you can’t not on your own. Which is why we need God.
Our ability to protect our kids-from ourselves- I will break my kids- Gods love covers our sin, we fall down we get up. God uses our weaknesses for His glory.
Our identity as a Mother. Motherhood is not all I am- God knows the plans he has for you
Our dispensibility. What I do, can be done better by someone else- Yes, and no- yes- there will always be a “better mom” depending on what standard you use to measure, and no- because you are uniquely chosen by God, for your child- and they for you.
Our individuality- No one understands…the temptation the loneliness the pain- Jesus does. There is only one right way to parent- My way.
Leave your ideas in the comment section to help me out;)

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Another snippet--- out of order... like my house, at this point...;)

Below you'll find another snippet of my project "Missional Mom".... just for fun... the bits and pieces I share here, are roung and not ready--- but just here to let you take a peek into what I'm working on;) ts

What is a “Missional Mom”?

In the middle of the night, the missionary closed her eyes in silent prayer. “Oh Jesus, I need your help.” Since responding to the call to missions, her nights had become times of struggle, tears and exhaustion. The natives were most needy at night. It was also at night, that the missionary was most tired.

All day long, she fed the hungry, clothed the naked and bound up both broken bodies, and the broken hearted. Over time, she had gained the natives’ trust, and they requested her judgment, in their social squabbles. In meeting the needs of those she ministered to, she cleaned, she cooked and she served. She also spent time in working to support her ministry financially. It was exhausting, and exhilarating at the same time. Boring and adventurous.

“Oh Jesus, I need your help”

The same prayer was on her lips the day she discovered God’s call on her life, to join the mission field. There had been a rare, visible sign, that day. One that had made clear to her, what He was planning for her.

A visible “blue double line”, sign. Blue double lines, in the tiny window of her home pregnancy test. “Oh Jesus, I need your help” She prayed then, too.

I know this, because the missionary, is me. Those blue double lines, were one of the most concrete messages God, has ever given me. It was my “Clear Blue Easy” calling into the mission field of mothering. Since that day, it has been an adventure that has been just as dangerous, thrilling and sometimes as mind numbingly boring, as any other mission field.

I am a wife of 18 years. I am a Mom to 3 boys, 17, 14 and (surprise) 4. I am a neighbor, and a friend.

I am a missionary. I’ve clothed little naked children, I’ve fed hungry stomaches. (Sometimes, I wonder if teenagers have some kind of strange mission field parasite, that causes this never ending hunger!) I’ve been the judge over countless “native counsels” where wisdom was required. “Who’s turn is it on the computer?” is a common one, at this point.

I’ve had to learn their changing cultures, from Thomas the Tank Engine, Dora the Explorer, to online gaming and internet safety. I’ve grown in my skill of understanding their languages and meeting their needs. Mostly, I've learned it the hard way.

FYI: “What up, Dawg?” sounds ridiculous when it comes from a mom of teens mouth.

I’ve been supportive of my husband, through struggles and job changes, sickness and health. I’ve tried to make sure there is (at least occasionally) time for sex, in a marriage crammed with responsibilities. All along I’ve prayed the same prayer as the day I was called. “Oh Jesus, help me.”

There are languages and cultures I’ve had to learn to understand and respect, like the world of Dora the Explorer, and online gaming, The culture of a business man, and the language of a marketing executive. I have learned the socio-cultural ritual of deer hunting. I have learned to live with and love my native neighbors, whether they are Muslim, Hindi or cranky yard gestapo members. There is no doubt, that I am a missionary. Right here in my home.

If you’re reading this, I say with confidence, so are you. Regardless of how you came into mothering, whether conventionally, through marriage and pregnancy, finding your “Clear Blue Easy” double “calling” line, like I did, or through single parenting or step parenting or adoption, you are called.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Missional Mom.... A Hope and a prayer....

I have a confession. I have been holding out on you. There is something you don't know about me. I am working on a project. A BIG project... (to me) I have started writing my first book......(well, if it's not published, I may be writing fuel for a bonfire;)

Please pray with me, as I write:

"Dear Lord- I pray for your creativity, for your love and passion to be poured out, I pray that Mom's would find encouragement, tools and inspiration to to be a missionary- in their homes, and in the world around them. I love you Lord- and look forward to this adventure! amen"

The Title? Duh. "Missional Mom".

I've decided to give you a tiny (and in still very rough draft form....) taste......

Missional Mom
Chapter 1
A view from the mission field

The drum beat pounds through my chest. Boom. Boom. Boom. I can’t understand the words- that accompany, but I can feel the emotion. The words sound foreign. I can see the native’s clothing, it is odd. The colors are familiar, the fabrics are familiar, but the manner of dress is so different, from mine. I’m not even sure how the clothing is staying on their bodies. I wonder if it’s some strange power, that the natives alone, possess.

In addition to the drums, I hear a strange, light tapping sound. I turn and see another native. By stature and demeanor, I can see that he is the elder. He is busily performing his daily chores. Tip tap. Tip tap. The sound comes from his fingers, they are engaged in a strange activity, part crazy finger dance, part musical tapping. Suddenly, another sound, a buzzing sound, assaults my ears. It sounds like a bee the size of a small plane. It seems to come from a small object in a place of honor next to the elder. The elder picks up the buzzing object, without fear. He speaks. While I can hear his words, I struggle to understand.

I notice a blue glow coming from the opposite direction. Intrigued, I turn to find it’s source. I see another, a smaller native. He is awash in the blue glow, it surrounds him in both colored light and high pitched sounds. The small one is enraptured by the glow and sounds.

Through an opening in the wall of the Natives dwelling- I can see other natives. They are walking, working and going about their daily business. I hear laughter, the sounds of their tools as they work. They are familiar and foreign, at the same time.

Welcome to my mission field.

My home.

The drums? That is the music of my 2 teenaged sons, 14 and 17. Their strange clothing? Oversized sized t-shirts and baggy jeans. They are natives.

The tip, tapping and buzzing elder? That is my husband, working on his laptop, at the kitchen table. His cell phone buzzes in “vibrate mode” he answers it and talks shop. It’s almost another language, to me. He is a native.

The small native awash in a strange glow? That is my youngest, at 4 he is enraptured by Dora and Diego, He watches his Boz DVD’s with the music colors and stories that he loves. My little native.

The opening in the dwelling? That’s my front door. Through it, I see my neighbors, their cars moving in and out of driveways. I see a beautiful, sari-wrapped- Hindu woman, pushing her stroller. My Muslim neighbor is out cutting his lawn. Kids of all ages and ethnicities play basketball and soccer in the yards. Natives of all sorts.

All around me are people who need God- either to meet Him for the first time, or, to get to know Him in a deeper way. In the middle of our little suburban cul-de-sac, sits my home. In which, sits me. A Mom. A Missional Mom. A Mom called to reach out and share what she has, in hospitality, comfort and experience, right where she’s at.

A mom who’s also, afraid she’ll mess up. A mom who’s afraid she may not be able to connect with people who are different from her. Who’s afraid to offend, and turn someone off to the Gospel, because she’s a dork, or is pushy or in ignorance, may offend.

A mom whose heart breaks for the lives of those around her.

-excerpted from-" Missional Mom"-

Monday, September 18, 2006

Missional Mom on: The Ministry of Touching Toads.

missional toad

Yes. Touching Toads.

I love kids. I love how they think- I love how they communicate and soak in the truth. But- ocassionally- there are a few "challenges". See- I am a GIRL. My friends would say- the ALL CAPS in this case is necessary.

I'm not just a girl, I'm probably a "girlie girl". Yesterday? I surprised a few little guys with the fact that I'm not afraid of Toads.

I was surrounded by some of the most fabulous little ones ever. We were havin fun- at a Baptism in my friends backyard- and pool. The grills were lit, smoke from ribs and burgers tickled our noses.

The boys were doin "boy stuff" like bossing around the girls--- and chasing each other- and chasing--- well- NOTHING. They were playing with cars, "Rescue Heroes" were being segregated from the "girls toys".

Then, Joe- (one of my favorite- very big kids) found a toad. He was gonna let it go over the fence----

NO WAY. Here is my moment....what do little boys like more than a toad?


"Joe, Is that a toad? Can I have it????????" Was out of my mouth before I could think it through.

"Yeah, just let it go on the other side of the fence, when you're done.." Was the answer.

(I don't know why - maybe there is a toad infestation to be reckoned with, just outside their fence.)

I haven't held a toad in years. It had been even longer since one pee'd on me. Let's just say- today? It hasn't been long ago. I'm "current" with my Toadie quota at the moment.

It was only seconds before the "Girlie boundary " as broken. Little guys swarmed.

They wanted to hold the toad. I think they were a little surprised, that I was holding it. We giggled when the toad jumped pee on my leg. Then we giggled again, when I scooped him up. Everybody gently touched Mr Toadie. No- we won't get warts- that's an old wives tale. (take it from an old wife;) We managed not to squash him.

Then, I put him outside the fence.

OK--- so maybe you're thinking a little funny- yes. Gross- too. But was it ministry?

Well... when we go to where others are--- and reach past ourselves- to touch toads... we often find ourselves touching hearts.

Maybe it was in the reaching past the pre-concieved notions-(girls don't touch toads) or maybe it was in the shared wonder of Creation... toads may be ugly--- but they are cute and definitely are amazing. (

Maybe it was just in taking time to talk to them... but those little guys? (And girls) well- we hung out on a blanket and goofed for quite a while after that.

I think we connected.

Sometimes- we miss finding the little toads that could connect us with our kids- we're too busy- or or distracted.

Truthfully- sometimes--- I'm just not that "into" the same things as my kids.

My boys love video games. I think they are a waste of time. But- you know what? When I strap on that plastic guitar, and play a few songs on "Guitar Hero" Ok.. so I cna only play ONE song- and I'm Awful! But-aftwards.... I get a whole evening of heart to heart with them. (Once they've finished laughing- of course.)

I can't play games all day- nor can my kids, (although they'd like too, I'm sure) and I sure I can't always have a toad in my purse-(although- I suppose its possible there is one.. somewhere in the bottom- you never know what you'll find in MY Purse;)

But- what if- for just a few minutes each day- we "touched toads?" We got involved in what our kids are into---- not invading their play and not allowing them to BE... but joining them, and letting love "happen"?

sounds like ministry to me....

1 Corinthinians 9:22-24

"To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. "

Dear Lord- help us to see the missional toads in our midst- help us to love our kids- and the kids of others- in a way that makes a difference- everyday. I love you Lord- amen.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Coount down to Convention....MOPS Convention, that is;)


OK... so picture this.... some 4,500 + Mom's (without their kids!) from all over the world, gathering in Nashville, Tennesse, to worship, learn, ecourage and be encouraged. For 3 days.

Can you say Pajama Party?

I'm going. Are you? MOPS International Convention.

What? You say you hate mopping the kitchen floor? Me too. MOPS has nothing to do with mopping floors. (Well- you COULD pick up hints about removing gum from carpet, I suppose, but that isn't the point;)

MOPS is not some strange cult for floor fanatics. It stands for: Mothers Of Preschoolers.

This is MOPS: (excerpted from the MOPS website)

"MOPS stands for Mothers of Preschoolers. MOPS International exists to meet the needs of every mom - urban, suburban and rural moms, stay-at-home and working moms, teen, single and married moms - moms with different lifestyles who all share a similar desire to be the very best moms they can be! MOPS recognizes that the years from infancy through kindergarten are foundational in a mother-child relationship and are filled with unique needs.MOPS helps moms through relationships established in the context of local groups that provide a caring atmosphere for today's mother of young children. MOPS also encourages and supports moms through resources such as books, this Web site, the MOMSense radio program and the MOPS International Membership. "

What will we be doing in Nashville?

Learning from some of the top Christian leaders... like:

2006 Convention Artists and Speakers:

Elisa Morgan
Ken Davis
Priscilla Shirer
Wess Stafford
Kim Hill
Donald Miller
Nichole Nordeman
Mark Schultz
Go Fish

And on Friday afternoon--- in a little room in the back somewhere-- (oh--- probably as far from my session before it, as possible.......)

Will be me, and a few hundred Discussion Group Team Leaders.... talking about Conflict.

How to resolve it... not AVOID it;)

I'm excited. Like WAY excited.

I have been involved with MOPS Intl. for somewhere around 16+ years. As a Local group Coordinator (coordinated the local groups leadership team) - as a MOPPET Coordinator (Organized a children's program for around 100 kiddos) and as Mentor Mom- where I team taught the women and developed Mentoring relationships with them.

I am now working with MOPS in a different capacity. As a Field Leader. I serve a number of local groups, with leadership training, encouragement and problem solving.

Ocasionally I get to do things like speak at local groups- or at convention- in workshops/seminars.

How cool is that? Not that I get to do it... but that there is an organization that is so sold out to their mission of growing women, that they encourage and give their leaders opportunities to step up to the plate, in different capacities?

That is awesome.

I've been attending and now serving at Convention for some 16 years.. (well- when I wasn't DUE with a baby- or when nursing made it impossible;) it is a spiritual filling and a time of fun and reflection. Challenge to grow....and eating with sharing ;) I look forward to it every year.

Will you do me a favor? See that list of speakers/artists? Will you pray for them? And me-- as we get ready to both recieve from the Lord- and to pour out to these Moms? Will you pray for the tech crews.. the convention center staff... the Moms who are struggling to leave their families behind? The families that will be surviving on macaroni and McDonald's for a few days in Mom's absense?

Dear Jesus- I pray for the leaders- for The MOPS International Staff- their families- the tech people and all those involved or affected in MOPS Convention- I pray for your presense and direction, I pray for you to fill and send out 4500 women on fire for YOU.... ready to allow you to change their hearts- their families and their world, I love you Lord- amen.

Thnx- i knew you would;)

Want to find a local MOPS group? Or find out how to start one? Click here: Immediately!

Seriously.... go.... now;) Check out the website- the forums! They are AWESOME!