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;)