Sunday, October 24, 2010

Peace of Christ to You

We said very sad farewells using these very words to many of our dear friends at church today, and they seemed a fitting way to sign off of this blog. Peace to you.

Well, that and a couple of Calvinisms...

The other day he got a huge splinter in his foot, and as we were pulling it out, he lamented, "I can see the death that will befall me!"

Then, as we were pouring some hydrogen peroxide on the wound, "No! No! Don't put carbon monoxide on it! That is dangerous"

Today, on the way home from church, he was discussing the fact that Auntie E had actually bought our Wii for Daddy a couple of years ago. "She didn't know the lion's den she was walking into with that one, did she? She thought she got that for our daddy, but all we do is play it all the time. We use it more than Daddy. It's just Wii, Wii, Wii."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Time to Close Up Shop

I started this blog over three years ago as an outlet from life with little people. I had no idea what a gift it would be to me or how many interesting and thoughtful people I would meet through this world. So many of you have been gifts to me through your insightful writing on your own blogs and your kind comments on mine. Thank you for the good conversation over the years.

I am going to have to stop posting here while we are in China, though I may resurrect this little spot one day. In the meantime, we will have a family blog in China. If you are interested, e-mail me for the link.

I feel like there should be a bigger ceremony, a long post about TwoSquareMeals, or some other thoughtful something to end this, but we are getting on a plane in less than nine days. I barely have the energy to write this post. It is going to be a long week!

In lieu of something to say, I am going to show my real face, and that of my kids. Here's the face behind the curtain. Check out the bloody knee from a recent hike to my favorite waterfall in TN. We've enjoyed our last autumn in the States with lots of mountain time!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Ramblin' Woman

It looks pretty certain that we are leaving for China in about FIVE WEEKS!! Don't even ask me how much we have to get done. I am really praying it all gets finished in time for us to enjoy our last few weeks here.

Today I said the first in what promises to be a long string of good-byes. I've known Max for fifteen years, longer than I've known my husband or any of my friends here in North Carolina. We have so many memories together, driving curvy mountain roads, windows down, music blaring, stopping to pick daisies on the roadside in the summer and inhaling the cool air of autumn. We drove all around East Tennessee during high school, staying out too late and goofing off in the innocent way you can only do in a small mountain town. He went with me when I decided to take a roadtrip one summer in college "just because." We wound our way through Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New York visiting friends along the way and getting lost in New Jersey. He went along when my friend Matt and I made our epic trip to Mardi Gras one February. He was there for late night talks with boyfriends and midnight runs to the Waffle House in college. He ran away with me every time I needed to get away during my restless years, driving off to Jones Gap to hike or just driving, with no destination in mind, until my mind cleared and I found peace enough to go home.

Max, Maxwell, short for Maxwell's Silver Hammer is my silver, 1995 Acura Integra. (Yes, I named all of our family's cars after Beatles' songs, but I just can't come up with a name for our black minivan.) I suppose I should say he "was" my Integra. I didn't think I would be so sad to sell him. We need the money to get us by until we leave for the field, and we don't need the extra car. It didn't make sense to keep him sitting idle somewhere for four years.

But as I drove to meet the new owner this evening, I cried. This was my first car, bought for me by my Daddy. It's a huge memory of him, not to mention all the memories I have associated with that car after fifteen years of driving it. I was such a restless, lost soul for so many years, and that car was the one thing that stayed constant and went with me wherever I ran to...that car and the Holy Spirit, I suppose.

Selling Maxwell today reminded me of the person I was, the restless, rambling, music and fresh air loving girl that used to drive around with the windows down and the Allman Brothers playing. I never was happy in one place for very long, and I used to be able to pack up everything I needed in that car and just take off at a moment's notice. Somewhere in the midst of a marriage and three kids and five years in one place, I lost that ability to pick up and go. In some ways that was good, growing up and no longer running away, but I am starting to remember that some of that restlessness is good, a reminder that things are not as they should be and that I am not as I want to be, that there is work to be done for peace and justice and love and truth.

For too long now I have been living a stable, stationary life. It wasn't all bad, but I am waking up and realizing that God is calling me to more, that He made me restless and rambling for a reason. It's funny that the first step toward rediscovering that is selling Maxwell. Good old Maxwell, who saw me through the tumultuous years and doesn't get to see the newly restless (in a good way) me. I will miss you, my faithful traveling companion.

Friday, September 10, 2010

7 Quick Takes-Almost Too Late


The busyness continues, and I'm just not finding time to organize my thoughts and write them. If all goes as planned, we will be in Asia the beginning of November. Never mind that we have a house two sell, eight years of marriage and three kids worth of stuff to go through, visas to obtain, and any number of other things to accomplish by then. Oh, and we need to find good time to spend with family and process this whole moving thing.


That leads to take number two, in which I tell you that I am not sleeping all. For some of you this may be normal, but not for me. Even when I have a newborn waking me up multiple times at night, I sleep exceptionally well. In fact, sometimes my husband has to wake me up to tell me a baby is crying. All three of my kids sleep through the night now, and I have always been one to fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow and not wake up until the alarm (or a child) wakes me. This lack of sleep due to stress is new for me, and I am not handling it well at all. Any suggestions other than just drinking lots of caffeinated drinks? Help, anyone?


On a brighter note, we spent Labor Day weekend in the mountains and took Monday totally off from moving/support raising/totally uprooting our lives work. It was lovely and cool and clear on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and we stopped at my favorite apple orchard (definitely the most scenic in the world) for some apples. We've already made applesauce and will be doing apple butter and pie tomorrow. Yum!


I have been thinking a lot of deep thoughts lately, but I just haven't had time to process them in writing. I have been thinking about how we spend so much time living our lives for an audience and documenting them that we don't actually live them. With blogs and digital photography and Facebook and Twitter, even those of us who try to avoid it often end up spending more time thinking about how to present our lives to others than actually living them. Because I have spent so much of the summer having to live in the here and now and not even having a moment to consider blogging or taking pictures or updating Facebook, I am realizing how much better life is without all of that. I think the generation becoming adults right now is growing up more narcissistic than any before because none of us have thought through how to use this new technology well. I heard about this book on NPR the other day, and would love other good resources that discuss how to live well without becoming a luddite and rejecting all technology.


I've also been thinking about Muslims in America. I want to hate that crazy preacher in Florida who wants to burn copies of the Qu'ran. I want to hate him, but that would make me just as bad as he is. So instead I want to be like Catherine, who is finding ways to reach out to her Muslim neighbors. But can I still be mad at 24-hour news media? If it weren't for their need to have something to report on, the Qu'ran burners would not have national coverage, and the hatred that they are showing would not be the fuel for more hatred, toward Muslims or toward Christians. I'm pretty sure the Jesus I follow said something about loving my neighbor. In fact, He even said something about loving my enemy...I guess that includes the guy in Florida as much as it does the 9/11 hijackers and even the news media.


On the parenting front, I have loved this article from Leila of Like Mother, Like Daughter (whose blog you really must subscribe to). Her parenting articles (and others as well) are so sensible and down to earth. This one was even better. I especially liked the alternate version of Ma Ingalls telling Laura to go in the house when there was a bear:

Today's child, in the false comfortable world of prosperity where parents think they have the luxury of listening to "experts" (who have no obedient children themselves), would cause this scenario:

"Laura, get inside!"
"Sweetie, get inside, please. Mommy needs you to get inside. Mommy doesn't want to scare you, but there's a big bear and she needs you to make a good choice now and do what she says."

"Will you buy me a treat?"

"Yes, sweetie, please, go inside."

"Where's Daddy?"

"Mommy knows you have questions, and that's very smart of you. I'm so proud of you. Please go inside now."

"He's never here! Why isn't he here? You TOLD me he'd be here!"
"Sweetie, when you argue with me, you are making a bad choice. What did we say about bad choices? Now, you'll have a time-out if you don't do what I say..."

Meanwhile, the bear eats them.

Why? Because Mommy is so patient that she allowed every interaction with her child to be an exchange between equals rather than a strong wall that a child can't breach. For her own sake.

My husband and I took her advice on having obedience practice, and it has worked wonders. We randomly ask the boys to run to the middle of the room and stand on one foot or hide behind the curtains. They do it the first time we ask because it is so funny, but the great thing is that they really caught on and started obeying the first time we asked them to pick up their toys or do something helpful for us. It was...well...wonderful.


On a purely frivolous note, my team plays Oregon tomorrow. We are totally outmatched. But we are playing at home, which is an intimidating place for even number 7. It could be an upset. I can always hope...

Monday, August 30, 2010

Just Five Days...

...not that I have an obsession or anything...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

7 Quick Takes-T-shirts, Books, and Movies

For more Quick Takes, visit Jen. And, no, I don't have one of those fancy Amazon accounts that lets me earn money when you click one of these links and buy the book. I just share my opinions on books for free because they aren't worth much more than that.


First this link, because it is more important than anything I have to say. My amazingly compassionate, loving, beautiful friends are in the process of adopting a daughter (or a pair of siblings) from Ethiopia. They already have three biological children, and they are opening their home to more. They are selling these super cool shirts to raise funds. Visit Cortney's blog to buy one. If you aren't convinced, read her story of being called to adopt. Start at the beginning or just read this post.

I have actually been making myself take time to read lately despite the insanity that surrounds me. I just finished The Alchemist, and though I don't think it was a consistently profound book, I did love it. It had many, many beautiful nuggets of truth in it, and it was a wonderful tale (fable? semi-allegory?). I think I loved it for the places it touched on Christian truth in the way I love a good movie that has glimpses of the truth in it. It's a quick read, one that had been on my list forever, and definitely worth it.

I am also finally trying to get serious about this idea of homeschooling and buckling down to read The Well-Trained Mind. I love the idea of classical education, but I am not sure I would love the practical working out of it. Anyone have any experience or advice on this? It seems so heavily academic at such an early age, and that scares me off a bit. Since my boys will already be in Chinese Kindergarten in the mornings, I don't want to overdo it. I'd love to hear from other moms of young ones who have started classical education at home.

For something less deep but just as wonderful, I just finished Adriana Trigiani's Very Valentine. I love her Big Stone Gap series and all of her books, and this new book did not disappoint. I'm looking forward to reading the next in the series.

If you are interested in China or good travel/culture books in general, you can't beat Peter Hessler. I highly recommend every one of his books, including Country Driving, of which I have only read the first ten pages. He is an incredibly talented story teller/writer/weaver of words, and you will not regret picking up one of his books.

On to visual media...We have been loving Foyle's War in the Two Square household. We get the episodes through Netflix and have gotten my husband's whole family addicted to this fantastic British murder drama set in World War II. The history is fascinating and the characters are lovably British. (Why DO we Americans have such an obsession with all things British?)

On the personal front, for those who care, we are...well...still really busy and traveling and trying to sell our house (or rent it...what to do, what to do) and making phone calls and sending letters and praying really hard that we can get to Asia by November at the latest. If you are the praying sort, please pray with us!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

And Also With You

"Calvin, you can't say those words to Auntie S. Words have meaning, and when you say that you don't love her you are saying what those words mean, even if you don't really think you are. You need to apologize and tell Auntie S that you love her."

It seems we have this conversation a lot with our boys. We tell them that we don't say words like that in our family, that we love one another because we are family and because God placed us together. We stress that these are the relationships that we must guard most closely because our parents and brothers and aunts and uncles and grandparents will be with us the rest of our lives. Even when we are halfway around the world, these relationships will come with us. They are gifts to be cherished.


Some say that the very repetition of the liturgy, Sunday after Sunday, renders it meaningless, but I don't agree. The words I say matter, not because of how I feel about them, but because the truth in them has power to change me. Every Sunday, as I recite the Nicene Creed and pray the prayer of confession and offer the "Peace of Christ" to those around me, those words mean something.

Whether I have conjured enough faith in my heart or paid enough attention to each word that Sunday matters little. I have chosen to say those words and those words have meaning. By saying them, I choose to be transformed by them and to join the community of the church, both in that building on Sunday and throughout all of history.

Some Sundays I am distracted by children or exhausted by life and go through almost an entire liturgy without thinking about what I am saying. But it never fails that one word or phrase or prayer jolts me out of my distraction and reminds me of the cosmic reality, the meaning behind those words.

"The Lord be with you."

"And also with you."

We say these words every Sunday during the Eucharistic liturgy, as the priest begins preparing the table. So often I have said it and only half thought about it, but this past week, as I looked at our pastor and dear friend who was serving the Eucharist, the meaning behind what I said moved me to tears. Suddenly I knew, beyond any doubt, that I truly wanted the Lord, in all of His fullness, to be with our rector and with that beautiful group of people gathered to commune around His table. Because of that moment, because of the meaning of those words, my soul was changed. I am certain that when I am halfway around the world and remembering that liturgy, even as my church family is saying it aloud together, my soul will be knit to theirs. I know that, because the Lord is with me and also with them, we are united in His love.

Words have meaning, and when I say them I am transformed. When we say them together, our souls are united in worship. No matter how alone I am feeling in a foreign country, no matter how much my faith may whither, I can speak the words of the liturgy and know that there is a greater truth than how I am feeling. The Word, who cares about my feelings and my struggles, meets me in that liturgy, and the strength of the community sustains me when I am too weak to say the words alone.

We love one another because we are family and because God placed us together. These are the relationships that we must guard most closely because our spiritual parents and brothers and aunts and uncles and grandparents will be with us the rest of our lives. Even when we are halfway around the world, these relationships will come with us. They are gifts to be cherished.


And so Calvin and Hobbes say the words of apology and love, sometimes sincerely and sometimes still protesting in their hearts while they repeat what we have said. But they say them because those words have the power to transform them, to remind them that they do love, to unite them to a truth greater than their own emotions.

"I love you Auntie S."

"The Lord be with you..."