Sunday, September 22, 2013

Living in Community

I want to give a shout out, yet again, to the teachers at the Center for Inter-Cultural Training (CIT) or as my kids call it "mission camp."  I am pretty sure that the staff/teachers at CIT strategically plan and structure every aspect of campus life to facilitate learning on every level including community living...that is my suspicion anyway.  Either way, I am thankful for the "community living" that we experienced during our time at CIT....sharing a laundry facility, common room, splotchy internet, common play area, having neighbors super close by, etc.  I am thankful because it prepared me for living in a close-knit community and the inherent aspects of ex-pat community life.   Now, do not misunderstand me!!!  I truly enjoy the community that we are blessed to be a part of here. I love walking around the neighborhood and stopping for an impromptu "sit and chat and have some lemonade" on a neighbor's front porch or having a neighbor come over to use the washer because theirs is broken or borrowing an egg to make pancakes on a Saturday morning.  In some ways, I feel like we have the unique privilege of enjoying what neighborhood life used to be like generations ago.  It is a beautiful thing!  Yet, there are aspects of community life that shed light on not so pretty areas of one's life (yup, intentionally keepin' it generic).  Let me give you a couple of examples.

  • Pride: neighbors come without that means the laundry might be in a heap in the living room, piles of dishes in the sink, 15 dead bugs on the floor that you swatted an hour ago but were too lazy to pick up. There isn't always time to make the house look like a picture in a magazine.
  • Selfishness: are you going to share the cookies that you just baked?  are you going to put aside your own agenda or free time to serve another?  

However, I am certain that living in community is part of God's design.  So again, thanks CIT for teaching me that.

Dinner at 'Aunt Ann's' house, one of our favorite neighbors

Friday, September 6, 2013

A Million Questions

Throughout the day (especially now that we are homeschooling all three kids), I get asked a ton of questions and need to make, what feels like, thousands of 'judgement calls'.

Can I have a cookie with breakfast?  Just one?  Can I have a little Coca-cola? Can we watch a movie on the iPad? Where is my _____?  What is for lunch?  When is dinner?  What's for dinner?  Do I have to eat that?  Can I have a piece of, a new piece...I don't want scrap paper...please?  How much do I have to eat in order to get dessert?  Do you mean now?  Why does ______ get ______ and not me?  Can we play Wii?  Do I have to do math?  Do you mean I have to read? Can we play Monopoly (asked five minutes before bed)? Do you have a box I can use?  Where are the scissors?  Do you want to help me?  Can we get a chicken? 

I recently read a book about prayer called A Praying Life by Paul Miller.  It really challenged my viewpoint on prayer.  While this analogy doesn't completely hold water...I started thinking about how free my kids feel in asking, requesting, persisting, and questioning.  Miller encourages his readers that "to learn to pray is to enter the world of child, where all things are possible." 

Praying is, after all, being in communication with our God.  Miller notices that children "chatter on" with whatever is on their hearts...whether it is questions (as I have noticed) or a constant commentary on the world, both real and imaginary (which I experience everyday through Noah).  Our children, especially Noah, hold nothing back in communication.  I am starting to realize that this unconstrained freedom to express one's heart and mind is what brings delight to God.  (Like I said...the analogy doesn't completely hold water...for God is infinitely patient in listening and I am...not.)