A Right Attitude – A Joyful Heart

I have noticed something new in our house lately: an almost-constant bad attitude in Kate. All day for the past few days, she continually disobeys, is mean to Caroline, and sulks or talks back when I give her instructions or correction. Usually, after a talk, a spanking, and a snuggle, she is cheerful and can more easily obey me immediately with a good attitude. This has not been the case recently, and instead it seems as if she almost immediately looks for ways to disobey or to do something spiteful to Caroline. Since I’ve noticed this, I’ve been praying with her more often, and I’ve been asking the Lord to show her her sin and her need for Christ. I want her to learn to be self-controlled instead of being controlled by her emotions or desires, but that alone is not enough. She needs a Savior!Β What a responsibility it is to point one so young to the Lord! I so clearly see her selfishness and her anger when she doesn’t get her way while playing with toys with Caroline. I see that she feels as if things are “not fair” or as if she’s not getting the good things that she deserves if I say she can’t have another cookie after supper. I can almost hear her saying, “I am so frustrated that I’m not getting all of the things that I want that I’m not going to pay attention to the other wonderful things I already have. I am so mad that Caroline wants to play with the same toys that I want to play with that I can’t enjoy actually having someone to play with instead of playing alone. I am so indignant that Mama would deny me another cookie that I’m not enjoying the cookie that I just finished, and I have almost forgotten that I ate it at all. The world is not fair, I am not getting what I deserve, and I don’t like it!”

I’ve realized, though, that I so often act the same way! I am so frustrated with the girls’ disobedience or arguing that I don’t enjoy or make good use of our time together each day. I get so angry that Bryan and I haven’t had enough time to spend alone that when we finally do have some time, I’m grumpy and distant and anything but warm and kind, and neither of us enjoy our time together. I do kind things for others out of obligation, and inside I begrudge some part of the time I gave or the money or effort I spent. I’ve heard from other moms that our children can really be gifts from God to help us in our own sanctification, and this is so true for me. Seeing my child’s inward disobedience (even at times when she is outwardly obeying), her selfishness, her discontentment, and her complaining has shown me even more clearly my own sin in each of these areas and so many others.

I have not only seen my sin mirrored in my children, but I have been confronted with it by my Heavenly Father. In the midst of an argument the other night, God stopped me in my tracks. I suddenly realized that I was arguing for my rights, for what I “deserve”, for what I want. I was suddenly aware of the anger built up inside of me and coming from my mouth. But God did something amazing. He stepped in when I wasn’t even wanting Him to. He changed my heart when I was selfishly wanting my own way. He filled me with love and compassion when a minute before I had been full of anger. He gave me joy when I had been living in discontentment, stress, and frustration. He reminded me the very thing I already know and have been trying to teach Kate: I can’t do this alone! I am so grateful for a God who does not leave me to wallow in my selfishness, pride, self-righteousness, and discontentment. I am so very thankful that He sent His Son to this world to die in my place and rise from the dead, triumphant. I am so thankful that he did not stop there, but that He constantly draws me closer to Himself and makes me new. Even when I pull back, He pulls me close again and reminds me of my need for Him. He shows me my sin and failure and gives me peace and joy because He has paid for it all! He is the one who can help me to “do everything without complaining or arguing” and to “be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (Phil 2:14, I Thes. 5:16-18) and who can help me teach my daughters to do the same. I can think of nothing else to say but, “Praise be to God!”

Published in: on September 27, 2011 at 11:45 am  Comments (2)  

Difficult days

This past week, I had a miscarriage. I was in my first trimester, and we had just told friends and family and announced our good news on facebook. We had been praying for this baby, and it was so fun to watch Kate’s excitement as she told people how “God answered us and said yes!” A few days after we made our happy news public, the miscarriage started, and by late Monday we knew for sure that we had lost the baby.

My days have their ups and downs. Mornings are usually more hopeful, and I have more emotional reserves to deal with whatever stresses come from caring for children or living overseas. Afternoons lately have been hard. I’m tired, but not sleepy enough to take a nap. I’m lonely, but I don’t want to talk to anyone. I know life is not going to be normal and rosy right now, and so I try to take the advice from a friend who has been here before: just get through today. And really, this is the same thing that Jesus said. Don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of it’s own. I trust that God will provide, that He is faithful. He is my hiding place and my comforter. I pray that He will bless us with more children in the future, and for now I’ll wait patiently and lean on Him. I want to learn what He is teaching me. I want to let this loss break off some of the rough places on my heart. I want to let Him mold me into something usable for His purposes. It hurts, but I trust Him.

Published in: on August 19, 2011 at 3:35 am  Comments (1)  

New apartment

Yesterday we moved into our new apartment. I had only seen it once, briefly, and in some ways I had to be convinced of its worth. Once we moved all of our bags here and the boxes that we had left at some friends’ houses, Bryan went out to get some supper for us. I started looking through the rooms and in the cabinets and dressers, and I got pretty discouraged. Everything was either broken or filthy or both, and the apartment which was supposed to be fully furnished was not at all. The drawers in the living room were missing their pulls and had ashes in them, there were bits of debris on the floor (which meant I couldn’t put Caroline down), the refrigerator and freezer were dirty, and the water heater wouldn’t work. There were only three plates, there were no utensils, the cupboards had spilled pasta in them, and the “clean” dishes weren’t clean. Then there were the problems the landlord was supposed to have taken care of before we moved in. The rolling radiator we had been promised for the kitchen was there, but it didn’t work. The disposable “carpet” in the girls’ room hadn’t been removed, and the large replacement carpet was balled up by their door. There was a huge pile of trash in the back yard. Finally, the whole place was freezing, there were no comforters or blankets, and we were all exhausted.
With some prayers and deep breaths, I managed to keep calm and do all I could to get supper made and everyone ready for bed.
I was completely overwhelmed, but I fell asleep pretty easily because I was so tired. Caroline slept the best she has here so far and was only up for 45 minutes or so. We all slept in a little bit, and when we woke up, it was amazing to see how many of those things seemed unimportant.
Now it is a few days later, and we are at a coffee shop. The girls are here and are sleepy, so I can’t really finish this like I would like to. To finish quickly, I can say that most of the cleaning has been done, and while we don’t have regular hot water, we are taking baths and boiling lots of water instead. We are doing very well, and we should have internet soon. Yay!

Published in: on March 8, 2011 at 10:53 am  Leave a Comment  

We’re here!

We made it! We arrived on Wednesday night late, and we’re still dealing with jetlag. (It’s Sunday night here right now.) The girls haven’t been sleeping between the hours of 1AM and 5:30AM, which means that I haven’t either. I’m pretty sleepy, but doing very well emotionally. It feels SO good to be back! We have been able to see a lot of our friends (although we haven’t been able to see all of them yet), and we are staying with some good friends. We went to church this morning at the church that we now consider our home church, and it was so encouraging. Everything feels quite comfortable since it is so familiar. I’m sure we will still deal with our share of culture shock, but for now we are feeling like we have come home in a way. I think once we have an apartment of our own, this will feel even more like home. (Bryan is actually out looking at apartments now.) I’ve been falling asleep while writing this, so I think I should go to bed!

Published in: on February 27, 2011 at 12:56 pm  Leave a Comment  

Getting ready to go

I’m waiting for the chiropractor, so I thought I’d post. Things at home are quite messy with boxes, suitcases, and stacks of clothes. We leave next wednesday, and there’s a lot to do between now and then. One great thing though is that we have probably sold our car! There is a man who is interested, and he wanted us to have the dealership check it out. It passed with flying colors, so we’re expecting him to buy it since he was the one who paid for the car’s checkup. We should know soon!

Published in: on February 14, 2011 at 6:02 pm  Leave a Comment  

Where to begin

Well, it sure has been a while! I’m going to try to post more regularly, especially after we move. (Oh yeah, minor detail that I haven’t mentioned…we’re moving overseas in less than two weeks! We’re SO excited, and we can’t wait to get back to where we were living in 2009 and early 2010!) One thing that should make it easier for me to post is that Bryan got me this new phone that I can post from. I’m having fun right now figuring out how to use it and adding apps. I’m white impressed with how easy it is to type!
Bryan and I went out on a date tonight, which is when he gave me my phone. It’s the first date we’ve been on since a few months after Caroline was born, and we had fun!

 

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Published in: on February 13, 2011 at 1:03 am  Leave a Comment  

Crazy days

Life sure has been busy lately! Bryan is at gone for work most days from around 9:30 until 6:30. On our language learning days he comes home early, and we take turns watching Kate while the other is having a Russian lesson. My days are spent taking care of Kate, going to the market for food, washing clothes and hanging them on the line on our balcony, and occasionally visiting the office or hanging out with a friend.

This week, Bryan has meetings that last from 9 until 6, so he’s gone from 8:30 until 6:30 since it takes at least a half hour to get home on the bus. Our office has many visitors coming for different meetings, and so almost everyone is hosting guests in their homes. We originally volunteered to have one guest since we only have one spare bed/room, but somehow we ended up with two! A friend is loaning us an air mattress, and the men will either share a room, or one will sleep in the living room. They are staying for 4 nights, and then one of them is coming back a week later for a few more nights. The only problem is that I don’t have any sheets for the beds in this apartment! We’ve been using what was here when we moved in: comforters. I think today is finally the day that we will have sheets for both of the beds. πŸ™‚ I found a place that sells them at a reasonable price, and so now I will just need to bundle Kate up (since it’s chilly outside) and we’ll go pick out ones that are the least flowery. (Most of the sheets I’ve seen here are extremely flowery or very brightly decorated.)

While we’re buying the sheets, I think we’ll also buy a butternut squash. Our family has a tradition of eating pumpkin pie, drinking spiced chai, and listening to Christmas music on November 1st, and butternut squash is the closest they have to pumpkins here! Now I just have to figure out how to carry all of this home with me! I took a quiz on another blog this morning about how similar I was to that particular blogger, and one of the items listed was about groceries being limited by what you can carry home. This is one where I definitely match, and unfortunately this applies to household goods, too! I’ll have to figure out how to carry two sets of sheets, one pillow, one butternut squash, a few other groceries, and Kate! πŸ™‚

Published in: on October 27, 2009 at 1:00 am  Comments (3)  

Kate’s birthday

What a good day we had yesterday! Kate has been sick for the past week, but we were so glad to see that she was feeling a lot better for her first birthday yesterday. We started the day by singing Happy Birthday to her a few times, and then we gave her the first present of the day, a doll I’d found at the grocery store. (I had been amazed that the toy stores here had very tacky, poorly made toys and that some of the ones at the grocery store were better made and less expensive!) She enjoyed playing with the doll, and then she took her morning nap while Bryan and I tried to get the oven to work.

The saga of the birthday cupcakes had begun the night before when I went to the store to buy ingredients. I hadn’t ever seen baking powder in the store, although I already had baking soda at home, and so I ended up buying cornstarch to mix with the baking soda to take the place of baking powder. I also couldn’t find any vanilla extract, so I bought a packet of vanilla flavored powder. I got some flour and more sugar since we had used most of our sugar for tea. I was very excited to find what I thought was a can of evaporated milk, and I bought some butter.

When I got home and began working on the cupcakes, I discovered that the “evaporated milk” was actually sweetened condensed milk, and the butter was margerine. (So goes shopping in a country where you don’t read or understand the language!) The flour was full of worms and moths, and so I couldn’t make the cake until the next morning after going back to the store for more flour. I decided to at least make the icing that night, and I learned that you can make evaporated milk very easily by simply boiling milk on the stove for a while. The rest of the icing went together beautifully, and we began the cake on the birthday morning after Kate went down for her nap.

This was the first time I had attempted to use our oven. We only have one pot in the apartment, and it can’t be put in the oven since it has plastic handles. One of my friends here loaned me her cupcake pans, and so I made the cake batter and buttered and floured the pans as Bryan lit the oven. The first thing we discovered was that there were no temperature controls on the oven, and the second was that there was no oven thermometer inside the oven. Next, once the oven had been on for a few minutes, we felt it and decided it must have been at least 450-500 degrees, or in other words NOT the right temperature for cupcakes. We turned the flame down as low as it could go. As Bryan said, the oven has two settings: huge flame or tiny flame. Bryan Googled something like “judging oven temperature with hand,” and I believe he did a fabulous job helping me decide that “tiny flame” was the right setting. I put the cupcakes in to bake, and we went to work again on the icing. The traditional birthday cake that Mama made when we were growing up has delicious chocolate frosting. The frosting is made on the stove, is cooled, and then is whipped with a blender until it is the right consistency and a lighter color. Of course I wasn’t thinking of this when I decided that this would be Kate’s cake for her first birthday since we have no blender. After leaving the icing in the refrigerator all night, it was about as hard as fudge and only a tiny bit easier to stir. My arms tired out very quickly, and so Bryan did the bulk of the stirring in my makeshift mixing bowl, a rectangular plastic ice cream container. His arms got pretty tired, too, but I don’t think he minded so much since he got to sample the chocolate as he stirred and enjoy the leftovers on the fork when he was finished. I took the cupcakes out of the oven, and they were delicious! We ate a few while they were still hot without any icing, and since Kate was up from her nap by this time, she ate a little bit, too.

We had a normal lunch and a quiet afternoon together playing, and we started supper early since we had many skype calls planned with family. Kate ate a good supper and then REALLY enjoyed her cupcake. Actually, I should say that she really enjoyed the icing since she probably only ate a bite or two of the cake itself! We had a great time watching her, taking video, and taking pictures. After dessert, I hosed her down in the bathtub, and we talked to family on skype so everyone could say happy birthday. It was a fun birthday, and Bryan and I enjoyed celebrating and remembering the day Kate was born. Happy birthday, sweet Kate!

Published in: on August 16, 2009 at 7:40 am  Leave a Comment  

busy morning!

What a morning we had! Kate did not sleep well last night, which of course meant that neither did we since we share a room. She awoke very early this morning needing to use the bathroom, and none of us could go back to sleep afterwards. We had a slow start to the morning, and we started preparing for our language helper to arrive. During this time, we got a skype call from some of our closest friends, and we were SO glad to be able to talk to them! Just as we finished talking, our language helper arrived to teach us Russian. We had the fullest language session so far and learned a plethora of new words, including body parts, items around the house, prepositions (on, under, behind, etc), and others. While the lesson was going on, a lady from the office arrived and wanted to clean the apartment. She used to clean every Thursday when this apartment was the second office, and she showed up last Thursday unexpected. We thought she would be coming tomorrow and were planning to talk to our boss this afternoon to tell him she didn’t need to come. We think that she doesn’t realize that we are renting separately from the office and that this is no longer part of her job. However, she came a day early! She only speaks Russian, and so she enjoyed listening to the lesson as she was cleaning, but she was quite distracting. We did learn one interesting cultural difference this time since she came when our language helper was here. Just before she left, she called our language helper out and they talked in Russian for a minute. When our language helper was about to leave, she called me into the bathroom and explained in broken English that they don’t flush toilet paper here! They put it in a small trash can that we had been using for, you guessed it, trash. πŸ™‚ There isn’t another trash can in the bathroom, and you’re not supposed to put trash in the little one for toilet paper. Interesting, isn’t it? There is also a small chrome hose attached to the wall by the toilet with a chrome sprayer on the end that looks like it could be a large one from a kitchen sink or a small one from a garden hose. We know what it’s for, but we have NO idea how they are able to use it easily without splashing water everywhere. Obviously, she did not mention that or tell me how it works, and she was embarrassed to talk about the small trashcan, too. The only other thing she communicated today was that she was worried about Kate because the a/c was blowing on her a little bit while she was sitting in her high chair. πŸ™‚ I wonder what other “strange” things we are doing that the cleaning lady wonders about! I mean, who puts trash in a trashcan in the bathroom?? πŸ˜‰

Published in: on July 22, 2009 at 6:18 am  Comments (1)  

Uploaded pictures

I haven’t been able to get on facebook yet, but I uploaded a lot of pictures on flickr today! Enjoy!

Published in: on July 21, 2009 at 7:19 am  Leave a Comment