Shuttin’ her down

I wrote this in our last days in the DR but am just now getting it up here so obviously some details have changed since I wrote it. I still think it is necessary to get it up.
Well friends, we are coming to the end of our time in the Dominican Republic. Our older boys leave in less than two weeks with their grandpa and Harley, Isaac and I will follow as soon after that as we can, depending on Isaac’s adoption paperwork. This time has been coming for awhile but I’ve honestly had a hard time being reflective until just recently. Finally my subconscious is pushing things to the surface and I am starting to realize things I hadn’t before.
First, I had a weird moment on Sunday as we were filling out of church. It struck me that I no longer saw the people around me as “the people God has sent me to” or “the people group I serve,” which was how I saw them for a long time. It just hit me out of the blue that these were just my friends, church family, and neighbors. As I reflected on that a little more I realized it was true in all areas of my life here. I wasn’t here to “serve Dominican students at Doulos,” I was here to serve Rebekah, Lissette, Luisa, Oscar…gosh this is hard to explain and I feel embarrassed that I ever thought of them all as my “people group” or some such missionary nonsense. They are all just individuals in my life. I love and serve them because of just that, the same as I would the individuals in my life in Spokane or anywhere else. I just love them because of who each one is. Maybe it is a fine line but I can still see it drawn out in front of me and I know I’ve changed sides.
The second realization I’ve had recently has to do with stuff I’m moving towards instead of people I am leaving behind. People, I’m horrified to admit this but…I want my silverware that is waiting in a box in the US for me. It is nice silverware. It has spoons that are just the right size and the pieces are balanced in your hand…and they are mine. This summer we have been blessed to house sit for two different sets of friends. So not counting my miss-matched, pieced together set we have used here, that is two more sets used recently. I know it sounds so shallow but there it is. And that’s not all.
I want power that is 99.9% reliable. I want to open my mouth in the shower and let that clean water rush on in, no fear of amoebas and parasites. I want to be able to listen to the sermon on Sunday with half an ear and still get everything that is being said (don’t judge, you know you do that! I am so exhausted after the hour long sermon in Spanish that I have had to pay attention to every word so that I am not totally lost and even then I don’t really get it all). I feel like, as a “mature” missionary and Christian I should be so far beyond all this. I feel like all these temporal things should hold no value for me, that I should be able to shun them forever if needed. Maybe I could if it was being asked of me, but right now I want them all!
We are tired friends. We have put off doing, seeing, eating, and being in so many ways these last four years. They have been wonderful and challenging and exactly what we were supposed to do and we don’t regret a moment of them, but right now we are tired. Our marriage that we have been propping up in many ways, needs a break from the pressures of life oversees. Our kids need to be able to participate in things they have given up. Our families in the States need to make up time they’ve missed. We are ready.
This has all led us to think about what it takes to be a “long term” missionary. We have so many good friends who make this place, or another, their life’s home. Whereas we feel like we put a huge part of our life on hold to be doing what we have done here, for many people life here is just their life. Sure, they go back and forth to the US, but their life is here. That hasn’t been how we have chosen to be and I don’t know if it would have turned out differently if we had started out with that mindset or not. Maybe we were never supposed to. Or maybe our “lifer” friends didn’t start out that way but had a transition in their mindset at some point. Obviously I don’t have any answers here.
So we will be leaving here in the next weeks or month and are struggling with some big questions. We are not sure where to turn. Where will we find others who have lived this double life and lived to tell of it? How do we enter back into US life in pretty much the same place as we left it but we are so changed and probably so are our friends. At least to these questions we will hopefully find some answers at a special training in CO this fall. We will head to DAR (debrief and renewal) training in the Colorado Springs area to, well, debrief and get some renewal. After that we will take a bit of time to transition with our kids before starting “real life” in Spokane, WA again.
So, with these wandering ruminations I get ready to close out this blog. Soon we won’t be “macmission” anymore, at least in the way we have been here. Already we aren’t “5” anymore since adding Isaac. It seems appropriate that, as the title of our blog becomes obsolete, I move on to other blogging ventures. As a way to launch our family into this new phase of our lives, Harley and I are launching a new website that I think you will want to check out. It will chronicle our adventures in the outdoors with our kids and hopefully encourage others to get their kids outside more. We are also planning to launch some ebooks later this year to the same effect. You can go check out trip reports, blog posts and some great photos at http://www.our4outdoors.com . We hope you go check it out, bookmark it and that it brings inspiration to you and your family. Thank you for following us here-it’s been an interesting road!.

Advertisements
Posted in Day to day life, Service, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Life with a two year old (again)

So you say you haven’t heard from me for awhile? I guess that’s to be expected when you find yourself suddenly, after 2 years of waiting, in the full care of a two year old, which you haven’t done for about 7 years. That means diapers, car seats, eating cold dinners after feeding baby, a huge increase in the amount of laundry, crying, whining (me and him), nap times you have to stay home for, wakeful nights…you get the picture. When would I find time to update readers on the state of affairs in the Mac house?
However, all of these hard changes come with some benefits too. Daily I get drooly grins, gazes of undying devotion when I enter the room, belly boofs, joy at discovering new things, baby talk, goofy giggles, hearing someone’s first words, reading “Good Night Moon,” play that is totally unhindered by social conventions, snuggles, rocking chairs, silly songs sung while playing with toes…well, you get the picture. Speaking of pictures…

Isaac birthday 2.2

isaac birthday 2.1

hat peek a boo

isaac baby carrier

Isaac brush teeth

Isaac face

isaac tavin hammock

isaac toes

K and Isaac

logan and Isaac read

mom and Isaac bake

mom and Isaac in hammock

striped shirt smiles

our blessing!

sweet face

That’s the focus right now. Baby and I are doing some bonding. This means putting down A LOT of other stuff that I have gotten used to (reading, internet surfing, crafting, email and facebook, quiet reflection time…) and looking into a child’s eyes, swinging him up over my head, changing his diaper, feeding him and teaching him to feed himself, rocking and swinging in the hammock, being silly but really just being present. It’s a beautiful thing. I am amazed and sometimes shocked, shocked with a jolt of awe, gratefulness, and sadness, when he gives me a bit more of his trust. When he chooses to allow himself, after all he’s been through, to open himself up a bit more, to make himself vulnerable in order to enter into a relationship. Would I have that courage? This is the reward that makes the sacrifice well worth it.

Posted in Adoption, Day to day life, Play Time | Leave a comment

I might have forgotten that I asked for this…

As we continue to wait to be allowed to meet and begin caring for our son, we’ve gone through a million emotions. There has been hope, despair, anger, frustration, gratitude, and more. Each day that we are delayed again, I begin to think it may never happen. I struggle with the depth of my feelings-I want so desperately to bring our boy home. At this point, to us, he is as much our son as any legal documents will ever make him. We long for the day he is in our arms. As I was crying out to God this morning He gave me two things: a thought and a prayer. I thought I might share them with you.
All of the sudden, in the midst of my desperate crying out to Him, He reminded me that I asked for this pain. Umm, what? He brought to mind something I once said. I said it with confidence and a bit of pride in myself for my profound thinking. I said that one reason I wanted to adopt a child was to better know God, since He himself is an adoptive parent. I was so smug in justifying this adoption. I pictured the joy of bringing home a child. I imagined the life I would give him that was so much better than what he would have had without us. I thought of bestowing a name on a child whose last name was formerly “desconocido,” unknown. I imagined how God felt when he did all these things for me. Wouldn’t it be great to know God in this new dimension?
This morning I did come to know God better, but not in any of the “fields of daisies and sunshine” ways I had imagined. As I let the pain wash over me and willed myself to enter into it instead of hide from it (thanks Violet!), I began to understand my heavenly Father in a totally new way. I felt the pain a parent feels at being separated from their child. I recognized the desperate waiting to bring home a child through a process out of your control. It isn’t that God doesn’t have the power to “make” us come home, but He chooses not to exercise it, thus allowing us the free choice to choose Him. He waits for the children he longs to adopt into His family. He wants so much to give them His name, to give them a better and fuller life.
I still hope to know God in the joyful side of adoption but right now He is allowing me to receive some of what I asked for-knowing Him in His longing and desperate waiting. Even though it wasn’t what I was thinking of when I asked for it, I am choosing to be thankful that He allows me to see His heart in a new way. We know God calls us to “do hard things” so that we may become stronger and more mature in our faith and so that we can know Him in His sufferings. How is it that I forget that when I am actually in those sufferings?
So this is the prayer He gave me when my own words failed me and I had no new prayer to pray:

“God, you know the pain of being separated from your children….from the child you wait to adopt. You know the depth of our pain today. Once, you moved heaven and earth to bring the children you are adopting home. Won’t you move heaven and earth once again, to bring our son home? You are the only one who can.”

Will you pray this with us today?

Posted in Adoption | Leave a comment

Thanksgiving in a Far Away Place…Perfect

As we approach the uniquely American holiday of Thanksgiving, it seems out of place for us to be here, where it is still warm and we are surrounded by palm trees and birds of paradise. How do we celebrate Thanksgiving without cranberry sauce, turkey, and family? At first I could hardly bring myself to even think of celebrating. “I’ll just pretend it isn’t a special holiday” I told myself.
Later, I found myself explaining to Logan how Thanksgiving Day came about in the United States. While describing the arrival of foreigners in a foreign land, the desperation of trying to figure out how to make “life” work there, and finding native people who came around them and helped them, I realized how appropriate the Thanksgiving holiday really is to us.
We have been reflecting on the first year of life in the Dominican Republic. We remember how we were overcome with feelings of helplessness so many times. We could not do simple things like go to the hardware store, repair our house, or communicate with doctors. Countless times, our Dominican friends came alongside us and served us. They went to the hardware store and helped us find what we needed to get our clothes off the flooding floors. They sat for hours with us as we waited in dirty clinics with sick kids so they could translate what the doctor would say. They showed us how to cook and clean. Often they shook their heads at how helpless we were but they always stepped up to serve us. I’m not sure we would have survived here in the DR for 4 years if they had not reached out to help us. I begin to understand how thankful the pilgrim people were as I look back over my own pilgrimage in a strange land. In this season of mangos and eternal spring, I find myself very thankful after all.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Creativity and Poverty

How do you spell “cytokinesis” if your alphabet doesn’t include a “y”, an “I” and only 1 “s”? Have a look at Kaden’s take on the problem.

only the child of and engineer and scientist, right?

only the child of and engineer and scientist, right?

Let me explain. Someone gave us a little bag of plastic alphabet letters one day last year. I put them up on the refrigerator thinking my toddler friends might enjoy playing with them when they came to visit. The next thing I knew, my boys were writing “messages” with them. Every morning I would wake up and check to see what was new. Often it was a totally new message but just as often, a slight rearrangement of the message from the day before. Listen, I did not put them up to this! They just started doing it.
For many weeks I watched and laughed at what they put up (see another example below).
cows nerf gun

with a slight rearrangment you

with a slight rearrangment you

Then one morning I made my own subtle change to the message. When they saw it they commenced to argue about “who dunnit.” It was fun to watch but after awhile I casually said, “Oh, I did it.” They stopped dead in their tracks for a moment and then burst out laughing. Here’s another example of one that showed up recently.

can you see the creativity?!

can you see the creativity?!


Anyway, imagine my delight the morning I came out and found “cytokinesis” spelled out on my fridge (I am a scientist by training you might remember). However, I was a little bit embarrassed that my “poor children” were having to “make due” with an incomplete alphabet. I wanted to jump on Amazon and order up another set of letters with ALL the letters represented. Wouldn’t any good mom at least provide her kids with a complete set of alphabet letters (and maybe a bit more age-appropriate ones?)? Let’s take another look at photo 1 so we can see what the “poor little buggers” had to do in order to represent the word they wanted to.
remember this?

remember this?


Here you can see that, lacking a “y”, you can put together a “V” and a “j” and create a “y”. Ok, that’s good thinking. Next you see that Kaden encountered another problem. He doesn’t have enough letters to spell the word correctly. He has to “re-spell” the word in a new way but maintain the basic sound patterns (I don’t know what the actual terms for all this “language arts” stuff are…remember, I’m a scientist by training…). He decides to drop an “I” altogether and, at the end, goes with an “x” since he lacks an “s” and invents an “I” from a Lego man magnet (if you know my boys and legos, you know how perfect this solution really is). As I sat at the table, drinking my tea and staring at the day’s word spelled out in incomplete plastic baby letters (poor kids), I realized that the lack of resources caused them to move toward a much greater creativity. Would I have ever seen this creativity if they had possessed a complete alphabet set? Would they have chosen the creative route or the easiest, well established route if they had a choice?
Since then I have been thinking about whether there is a connection between a having a type of “poverty” and creativity. I know that many of my Dominican neighbors could put MacGyver to shame (they solve similar problems but without the help of duct tape and a Swiss Army knife). They use whatever is around them and re-purpose it in new and imaginative ways to solve problems. They do this because they are living in a financial poverty situation. They cannot just go out and buy something “appropriate” to fix a problem, they must create and invent. I am going to be looking for their solutions and maybe get some photographic evidence in the near future.
But back to my genius kids, it just tickles me that my kids are playing these word games because they want to. I love it that their minds must play but that their creativity comes through also. I love it that “cytokinesis” is the type of the word they put up. The creativity and the connections that they instinctively make awe me. I’m going to keep thinking about creativity in “poverty” and encouraging my kids to look for creative solutions to their “problems…” but I might have also just purchased a new set of letters for the fridge…

Posted in Day to day life, Play Time | 1 Comment

McCircus

Ok, first, here’s the background you need to know to make this story of mayhem make sense. 

1.  My husband left me for 10 days and took my oldest slave son with him. 

2.  We are dog sitting 2 large German Shepherds for our church since we lost our meeting location and haven’t found a new one. 

Image

3.  We have two wild mustangs (one much less “wild” than the other) that are mostly kept for grass mowing, not for riding. 

Image

4.  Our landlord wants to pay guys to come cut the grass and wants us to get rid of the horses.  Fine. 

5.  Two guys said they were coming on Wed. to look at the horses and could I please have them caught and ready to ride? (I guess they didn’t fancy spending another afternoon like we did on Monday chasing the horses around the property for hours.  Go figure).  Here we go…

So, I’m supposed to meet the horse guys at our house sometime after 1:30.  I forgot I had to tutor a student until 3 so we got home at like 3:30.  Oh well.  The guys weren’t here yet so I ran in and changed to horse wrangling attire. 

I go get Chester (our stallion who is easier to catch but much scarier to ride) and take him to the back yard. 

Image

Buckeye (the other horse who worships Chester and will follow him anywhere, hates to be caught but is pretty good to ride) follows into the yard.  I am in the process of deciding whether or not to “round-pen” Buckeye ( since I still can’t catch him) to get him to chill out when the guys show up.  They help me get Buckeye but then Dakota (our Rottweiler) gets out of the house (thanks kids) and the guys let go of the horses and go running ’cause they’re scared of him.  They are headed to the nearest tree when I get Dakota back in the house and Preciosa (the female German shepherd we are dog sitting) tied up.  We re-catch the horses and take them out of the yard area to ride. 

All is going fine with Buckeye.  Our neighbor kid is up and riding and I’m thinking I might just sell this horse.  Unfortunately Ringo (the big beast of a German shepherd) is going absolutely ape-shit on his cable and chain. 

 

Image

I go over and stand with him and try to calm him but the moment I leave he busts his chain.  Yup, just rips the brand new chain apart.  Well, all the grown men (and neighbor boys) start screaming like girls and are climbing all over the cars trying to get out of Ringo’s reach. Fortunately or unfortunately, he is more interested in chasing Buckeye and the neighbor kid who was riding.  I finally catch Ringo and we drag each other to the garage under the house.   I trick him into going in and “whamo,” slam the door.

Image

Just when I’m catching my breath, the guys want me to ride Chester-no one else will. I decide to go for it and I get on ok but then the rodeo starts.  As Chester is bucking and the guys are screaming something at me in Spanish, my life is flashing before my eyes and I am sure I will be bucked off onto the truck hood and break my spine.  I finally get him moving forward and not bucking and then, as soon as possible, stop him and get off.  I told them I was done with that business and they could ride him themselves if they wanted him ridden (ok, I didn’t say all that exactly.  I think I was shaking too hard to get even the most basic Spanish out).  The last thing I need to do is get busted up and in the hospital here, and all just to sell a horse for much less than it’s worth.  The guys say they are interested in Buckeye and to call if I’ll go down on the price.  Oh, and they’ll buy my truck if I’m selling that too.  Sorry, the truck’s not for sale.  yet.  Thanks anyway.

Some days it feels kind of like a three-ringed circus around here.

Posted in Day to day life | 2 Comments

Pursuit

One of the weird things we pray for as Christians is to know God better. I say “weird” because often we don’t think about what this actually means. Usually we are thinking about reading our Bible and asking for God to reveal more of Himself to us through His written word. Sometimes we want to “feel” Him in worship and know Him better through that. Not many Christians praying that type of prayer are thinking about knowing Him better through suffering. That is a hard prayer to pray unless you really mean it. I know some awesome Christians who I’m pretty sure pray that way (not just ‘cause I see them suffering so much either). There have been times in my life when I have tentatively prayed that way, not sure I really meant it but wanting to mean it.
I have been praying this “I want to know you better God” prayer lately but have been pointing it in another direction. I can’t help but see pretty much every aspect of our adoption process as a way to know God in a deeper and more personal way.
Lately our process has meant a lot of waiting broken up with flurries of activity. We have had places we need to be and people we need to see. We have loops to jump through and then lots of time to wait. We had a moment this summer when we thought we might actually have children to pursue. That fell through. We have heard of other kids who might be available soon. We have to decide if we will pursue them. When this whole thing is over it will have taken years and cost much. Last night, God moved in my heart to understand this in a new light.
As I said the word “pursue” in my mind it came to me that God had done the same thing for me. He pursued me, and continues to do that still. He waited for me. He waited to adopt me into his family. There were times He had “appointments” to keep that helped bring me to Him. I did not know He was pursuing me back then, but He did. And what of the cost? The cost to bring me into His “forever family” was greater than I will even know on this side of life. He gave the one Son He already had to bring me home. That is a price too steep for me to understand.
Many Christians immediately see the line connecting earthly adoption in this life with our “adoption as sons” that the Bible speaks of. However, the longer I walk through this process on earth, the more I see of the subtleties of that obvious parallel. Being overwhelmed with thankfulness for His pursuit of me is just one example.
As I continue to pray that prayer, the prayer to know God better, I pray that soon that “knowing” will come as we celebrate the actual bringing home of new family members. The Bible tells us that the angels rejoice when a person is brought into the family of God. I pray that we will know that rejoicing soon as we welcome people into our family here on earth. There are times to pray for suffering but right now, I’m praying for rejoicing!

Posted in Adoption | 1 Comment