Talking to the phone

I rarely, rarely talk on the phone.  Not to my mom, not to my sister or cousins or friends.  Basically the only people I talk to on the phone are my physician, dentist and optometrist.  Sometimes when people lock themselves out of the old hotel we live in, they might call in desperation to be rescued, but that’s about it.

The thing I have discovered this year is that I can now talk TO my phone.  This has been a life-changing discovery for me!  I have an iPhone (I don’t know which one).  It’s actually falling apart glass chunk by glass chunk right now, but I can still talk to it and it still listens to me.

My phone is young enough to have Siri, so I just tell her stuff all day long and she writes it down for me and I don’t even have to take my hands out of the sudsy water.  I don’t have a dishwasher, so my hands are in the sudsy water a lot.

When I’m cooking dinner and I use up the last of the olive oil, I say, “Hey Siri, add olive oil to my grocery list.”  And she has been trained to obey every single time without back-talk, which is refreshing.  She always says, “Ok, I added it.”  

Most often I ask her to remind me of things, and did you know I can have her remind me at a certain time or a certain place?  So when I’m driving down the road and see the fuel in our van is getting low, I tell Siri, “Hey girl, remind me to get fuel when I’m at the King Soopers on Centennial” since that is where we get our fuel.  And she does it! She reminded me when I was in the parking lot later that day.  

I say things like, “Set my alarm every weekday for 6:00 in the morning.”  Or “Remind me to pray for Christy every day at 3:00.”  Then I don’t mark it completed until I’ve actually prayed for Christy.  Talking to your phone can be so useful; I’m sure I’m still only discovering all the things it can do for me.  I write down all my dreams in a folder on my phone titled “Dreams and Visions.”  Since I discovered voice-to-text, I just recall my dreams out loud while I’m brushing my hair in the morning, and Siri writes them all down for me in the correct folder.  

I don’t often sing the praises of my phone, but today I thought I should since I’ve come to appreciate its prompt obedience to my every command.  It frees up brain space for me so I can remember more important stuff, like how to train my children about prompt obedience to my every command. 😉

Pioneering

For the past year and a half, my friend and I have been pioneering a ministry here in our city.  We go to places that are fronts for prostitution and human trafficking, and try to make connections with the women who work there.  It has been a long, sometimes grueling process of much prayer, research, networking, trying to grasp the issue so that we can create a strategy to help and bring Jesus to them.
Last week, two of my friends and I took our kids (eleven of them in total!) to one of these places where there were some friendly Thai women who seemed open to getting to know us more.  We gathered on Tuesday morning and listened to a worship song with the kids, then we prayed and asked God how He would like us to bless our new friends.
I took notes on my phone and I chuckled through some of them.  One of the little boys got a picture of Minecraft while he was listening to God, and his mom wisely told him he should maybe pray into that a little more and ask God what it means.
Almost all the kids got a word or picture from the Lord, and by the time we went around the circle, we could see that God was saying something to us about a birthday.  My friend had just had two dreams that week about eating birthday cake, and she felt God telling her to take a birthday gift along on our visit.
We loaded up in our three minivans and drove to Costco.  I picked out a huge cake that said “Happy Birthday!” and we drove across town, praying that we heard right about what we were supposed to do.
On the way, Ellie said, “Mom, I saw a picture when we were praying.”  Ellie was in and out of our prayer time earlier, so I hadn’t even asked her if she had heard anything from the Lord.  She is just 4, and I only told her that we were going to visit a friend.  She tends to carry the weight of the world on her little shoulders anyway, so I’m trying to keep her life carefree as long as I can.
I asked what this picture was that she saw when we were praying, and she said, “Mom, I saw these ladies standing in a row next to God and Jesus and they were all blind.  Then they looked up and saw beautiful golden heaven that was sparkling, and they saw angels. The angels said, ‘Surely goodness and mercy shall follow you all the days of your life!’ and then the ladies said it back to the angels and God looked over at them and they could see perfectly!”  One of the other kids in the car with us told Ellie she should share it with the women she was about to meet, but Ellie wasn’t interested.  She claimed she was much too shy for that.
Well, we descended upon this massage parlor, all 3 mamas and 11 kids armed with a giant birthday cake, flowers, paintings and a little gift bag with some earrings from Kairos Traders.  We were met at the door by Miss Jan (not her real name) who ushered us into a tiny room like a closet where we were pretty much stacked on top of one another.  “Who’s having a birthday?” my friend asked.  And Miss Jan said, “Me! My birthday was yesterday! How did you know?” Her eyes grew wide when we put the cake on the table.  We explained to her that God cared for her enough to tell us it was her birthday, and she kept pointing to her arm saying, “Goosebumps!”  The children shrieked unabashedly and showered her with hugs.  She kept telling us how lucky we were to catch her, since she is the owner of the massage parlor and was only there for a few  minutes that morning to check on things.
We had a grand time, singing happy birthday and blowing out the candles and then cutting the cake and passing it around to everyone while we got to know each other a little.  Before we left, the kids took turns laying hands on her and praying for her.  At one point, my friend looked up and said, “I feel like God wants me to tell you, ‘Goodness and mercy shall follow you.”  My little girl Ellie leapt up off the bed she was sitting on and said, “God told me that same thing!”  And she told Miss Jan the whole thing in a loud, clear voice while Miss Jan looked both astonished and teary.
As we drove home, Ellie kept marveling over the fact that even though Miss Jan does not know God, He knows her very well and He wants her to get to know Him.  We are praying for her every day, and hoping to start a Bible study with her and her friends so that they can get to know the Jesus who loves and cares for them.

Sorry I’ve been busy

My number one rule of blogging is to never start a blog post with: “Sorry I haven’t blogged in awhile; I’ve been soooo busy.”

My number one rule of conversation is to never say, “I’ve been soooo busy lately.”  Sometimes I dip into dark water and talk about my life being full, though.

My number one rule of parenting is to never be in a hurry.

I don’t know if these are actually my number one rules of anything, but they are high priorities.  It’s good for me to write them down, so as to remind myself.

Last week Ellie and I were walking outside, and she held my hand and said, “Why does everyone always need you?”  She is quite intuitive, but I wasn’t sure what she meant so I asked for an example.  She launched into a story about people knocking on our door a lot and someone asking for cupcake pans.

It made me realize it has been awhile since I’ve done a “yes week” where I say yes to my kids and no to everything else.  This time it was harder than I anticipated, and today I feel a little restless.  I feel middle-aged too, because it feels like a discipline to play games on the floor, to hang out at the pool for hours without accomplishing any work on the side.

Monday morning I said they could pick a fun thing to do and Ellie chose Trader Joe’s.  She got her own miniature cart, she looked for the stuffed giraffe hidden in the store so she could claim her lollipop, and she sampled the peach jam and watermelon juice.  I even let her pick out a treat and she chose various flavors of extra creamy yogurt.

Last night we went to a baseball game with friends.  We didn’t last through very many innings, since baseball is not an overly exciting sport to watch unless you are “very American,” as my husband says.

I’m not here for anything important, just saying hello.

Hj spends his free evenings recording his Dutch radio show or working for Kairos Traders online.  He has a good excuse for not showing up here more often.

Lisa Bevere came and shared with the ladies of our campus the other day.  She talked a lot about the importance of writing down what God is saying and doing, recording our visions and dreams and then working towards them.  When she was young and wished for a mentor, she wrote down everything she wished a mentor would say to her.  She wrote down how she wished a spiritual mother would treat her, and challenge her.  Then she took the things she had written, found a young girl and applied all the things she had written.  She called it living backwards or something like that.

I believe in theory in the importance of writing things down, but actually making the time and space to do it requires some steadfastness.

Steadfastness is not my natural bent, but this year has been all about learning to do things I’m not naturally good at.  Watch me grow!

 

We Went to Holland

and France and Belgium and Switzerland and Luxembourg, with a dash of London thrown in by mistake.  It was so wonderful to see Hj’s family again and introduce Ellie and Adam to the Holland they have heard so much about.

 

We missed our flight in Denver so we got to sit in the airport and wait for 13 hours before starting our 8-hour flight.  It was a long day, as I recall, but I try not to recall.  I know we ran out of snacks early on.

Adam turned 3 while we were in Holland, and Hj turned 30.  Hj’s parents celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary as well, so there was plenty of cause for celebration.  We spent a fun weekend at Disneyland Paris with the whole family, before Hj and I took our kids on a  little road trip.

 

 

 

We spent a night in France at a YWAM base with our friend who is like family, Allison.  We spent another lovely day and night in Switzerland with more beautiful friends that YWAM has allowed us to meet.

We’re so glad we didn’t miss the beautiful country of Luxembourg, where we stayed in a castle and visited an art gallery.  The countryside was green and lush and moist and refreshed our souls.  After a few years of living in the desert of Colorado, a rainy day feels like such a novelty to me.

 

 

We got to spend time with both of Hj’s grandparents.  We did the Easter egg hunt in Opa Fousert’s green yard among the tulips and daffodils, being careful not to fall into the canal. We made some sweet memories with all the generations together, sharing tea and cookies and memories from the past.

 

 

We loved all the special times we had with Hj’s family.  We packed a lot into 2 weeks, but we saw everyone we wanted to see, we ate everything Hj had dreamed of, and we visited all the spots ew really wanted to see.  Here Ellie is riding to the train station on the back of her cousin’s bike.  We took the train to the Hague for Adam’s birthday, and visited a children’s book museum.

Hj’s granddad gave Adam a harmonica for his birthday.

 

I hope you can see beyond the jetlag and culture shock of the Amish woman in the photo below.  It doesn’t look like it, but I was having the time of my life!  I shared with over 400 Dutch young people about growing up Mennonite, marrying a Dutch guy and about the goodness and faithfulness of the Lord in my life.  To be honest, I preached a little.

The next day, a photographer came and took pictures of me in the park by Hj’s former home, right next to his old school.  At one point, I remember seeing faces crowded around the windows.  I suppose not every day an Amish woman is being photographed outside the schoolhouse windows.

Year’s End

Our fall was busy, and I don’t use that word lightly.  In fact, I hate the word “busy” and I try to avoid using it whenever possible.  I prefer to say I have a full life, but even that is starting to get a dark tone to it.  Constantly being busy shrivels my soul like no other, so I usually work hard to make time for pausing, reflecting, and being quiet.  It feels like swimming upstream sometimes, but I think I’m learning to feed my soul and spirit more than drive-thru fast food.  I discovered, though, that I am better at short bursts of very busy with white space in between than I am at constantly being sort of busy.  That’s kind of unrealistic, isn’t it?

God did set up creation to rotate through days and nights, seasons of harvest and seasons of rest.  I think that is the thing I am trying to learn, to find the rhythms that bring fruitfulness and peace.

This fall we had about 100 students join the already 150 full-time staff here, and that’s not counting all the kids.  We are at max capacity in this building.  God has been speaking to our leaders the past few years about building systems and roots that can hold more people, so it is a blessing to see the fulfillment of that word.  Hj and I led the business track of our DTS this quarter.  We had 5 students, who are in the lecture phase of their discipleship school.  Most of the time they were with the other 50 students in DTS, but we had several hours a week with them.  They got introduced to what business as mission (BAM) is, we took them on a number of field trips to local businesses, and they were instrumental in launching a fair trade store here on our campus.  They left this week for several months abroad, putting into practice all that they have learned the past three months here in Colorado.

Hj is helping several businesses in the 10/40 window establish an online presence through website and social media.  It’s a challenging job without ever having visited these businesses, but he is planning a trip next year to several countries where he can meet the business owners, as well as create and gather the content he needs.  Hj has committed to another year at the coffeehouse.  It has been a year of explosive growth at Kairos and with it, of course, growing pains and challenges.  We are sending 3 employees to do a discipleship training school with YWAM this year.  If I didn’t believe it before, this year has confirmed my belief that one of the most effective ways to invite people into the family of God is to hire them.  Especially here, our employees rub shoulders every day with young people who are passionate about following Jesus and they can’t help but be drawn into the story of what God is doing.

For almost a year, my friend and I have been going to the places in our city where prostitutes work because of a dream she had in which God told her to go every week and to take me along.  During the summer, we had 4 interns who went with us every week, but this fall it was just the two of us.  For security reasons there are a lot of things I can’t say on this platform, but God has led us one step at a time into a deep love and commitment to these women and introducing them to Jesus.  In January, we will officially launch this new ministry in YWAM and I will spend a few months doing nothing but research and prayer on many different fronts so that we can wage a strategic war on prostitution in our city.  We will seek to find out the biggest needs of the women we love, and working with law enforcement, politicians and spiritual leaders to understand what are the spiritual and legal strongholds we can work with or against.

During this time, Hj will be working in a three-month counseling course that is specifically focused on helping refugees.  He will be staffing the course, which means he will sit in on the classes, run the finances and mentor several of the students personally.  There has been great interest in this course, and they have accepted about 20 students so far.  We are excited, because they are coming from all parts of the world to learn how they can make a lasting impact in the global refugee crisis.

As you might know (or maybe you forgot), we live on the generous donations of our friends and family in order to be able to do missions.  We cannot be paid for any work we do with YWAM, but we are blessed with extremely generous families and friends who support us monthly and a church family who loves us and prays for us so faithfully.

There are so many wonderful places to invest your money this holiday season, but if God lays on your heart to give toward our mission, here is the link to give, for a tax-deductible receipt.

https://www.ywamcos.org/support?code=618

My Children

Disclaimer: these thoughts are several months old.

Last evening I met a girl at Natural Grocers.  She was a student here for a semester, but her ethnicity was Indian.  She was pretty and vegan and we talked about how we feel after we eat junk food.  Then she asked how old my kids are.  When I told her, she said, “Wow.  What do you do with them?  Like, can you talk to toddlers?”

I thought that was such an interesting question.  What do you do with toddlers?

She asked to see pictures of them on my phone, which made me happy.  I showed her these two from the day before.  Adam fell asleep on the way to our garden, so we put him on a blanket in the grass.  Ellie couldn’t stop kissing him and snuggling him.  She often tells me, “Mom, he is so adorable.”

What DO you do with toddlers?  I feel like I clean up after them a lot, and I take them places and train them.  I read to them many books a day, most days.  I tell them stories every night and I comfort them when they’ve pinched a tiny finger.

I’ve been saying it a lot lately: “I wish I could freeze time.”  My babies are 4 and 2 years old and I have always had such an affinity for toddlers that I just wish we could stay here forever.  I’m not so familiar with 6-year-olds and 10-year-olds so it feels a little more scary out there, but right now I really think it couldn’t get better.  About once a day I think how nice it will be when Adam doesn’t launch into such startling, unreasonable fits of frustration, but I don’t take those too seriously.

 

 

 

There are two questions I hear a lot.  “Are you planning to have more kids?” and “Do you think you will homeschool?”  I didn’t know I was expected to have answers to either of those questions at this stage, but hearing them often enough has pushed us to develop some reasonable-sounding + humorous answers.

This week Ellie had dance camp, so every morning we were out the door by 8:30.  I like it like that.  We usually go somewhere fairly early in the day, come home for lunch and then they sleep all afternoon.  Around 4:00 I start the laborious task of waking Ellie, who sleeps very, very deeply.  I feel like I need some creative strategies for waking her, because it is really one of my most challenging chores.  Yelling into her ear barely makes her flinch.

Miss Wendy was here for dinner a few nights ago, and we were sitting on the couch chatting when I noticed Ellie was missing.  Hj found her in the bathroom with a scissors and a bunch of hair in the trashcan.  She said she wanted to be like Miss Heather, my friend who has short hair.  She spent a long time in front of the mirror after that, brushing her hair and coming to grips with what she had done.

The next day Adam took all his clothes off, went to the corner of our building right by the road and relieved himself and then stepped in it.  Ironically, at the moment Adam was outside doing his business, I was on the phone with a friend telling her how frustrated I am that I can’t strike the balance between being a wife/mom and being a friend.  I feel like I’m either neglecting my friends or neglecting my family, but I can’t seem to find the spot in the middle.  I was on the phone catching up with a friend, but ignoring Adam for a full 50 seconds.  The irony, huh?

 

 

 

 

The other day at staff meeting here on the campus, we were to sit in circles and take turns talking about what we personally are doing to reach the unreached, since our campus is called to stay focused on reaching people in the 10/40 window.  I had to say my first mission is the unreached people in my home.  Maybe not technically unreached anymore, but my kids came to us completely ignorant of the Gospel.

It’s a topic for another day, but I have a lot of thoughts and questions about teaching our children about God.  I’ve always read Proverbs to them, but just recently introduced Bible stories like Joseph and Noah and Jonah.  Their reactions are priceless.  It has stirred in me such awe and wonder again for these incredible stories, and the Word of God in its mystery and depth.

This week Ellie’s dance camp has been very Christ-centered, and Ellie has loved it more than her birthday, I think.  She told me on the way home one day, “Mommy, when I was dancing so beautifully something happened which I thought was going to happen.  God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit came and danced with me.”  And I thought, I know that feeling.  I’m fumbling through this beautiful dance of motherhood, but I can say with humble confidence, “I know what’s going to happen– God in fullness will come!”

I have been reading the story of Jacob wrestling with God over and over lately.  In Sally Clarkson’s book “Different” there is a passage that talks about wrestling being a full contact sport; in other words, wrestling with God means being close to Him and engaging with Him.  I found so much comfort in those words because I am always wrestling with big questions and beliefs, and usually I feel silly for getting hung up on things that most Christians seem to accept easily, or I feel like a traitor for my doubts.  God has taken me back to Genesis 32 so many mornings in a row now, I’ve lost count.  There are tears on those pages because I cry every time I get to the part where Jacob names his place of wrestling “The Face of God.”  Even if I walk with a limp the rest of my life, I know that my wrestling and even my doubts have always led me back to the Way, the Truth, the Life.  I know I have met God in the long, dark nights and I have never been the same.

I hope and pray that I will be able to let the people I love wrestle through hard things and deep questions too.  I pray that I will sleep in peace, and when I wake up in the morning and see the limp of one who has wrestled with God in the night, I can say with joy, “Something happened which I thought was going to happen.”

SOBE

I’ve just been through a 6-week business intensive that we call the SOBE, School of Business and Entrepreneurship.  Technically I was staffing the course, but the truth is that I was there to learn.  We had 13 students from around the world, who each gave a 10-minute presentation of their business plan to a “shark tank” as their final exam.

We had phenomenal speakers every week; a collection of local businessmen who are embracing missions alongside us, as well as speakers from around the world who are very connected to the missional aspect of their businesses.  They were all brilliant, and gave generously of their time and expertise.

I heard so many things I don’t ever want to forget.  Here are a few of them.

As Christians, we usually divide our work and activities into sacred or secular.  We think a missionary or a pastor does sacred work, while a lawyer or business owner does secular work.  What if we are all called, as believers, to full-time ministry in our field?  It might be farming land, trading stocks or representing clients in a courtroom.  When God made Adam in the Garden of Eden, He “took the man and put him into the garden to cultivate it and to keep it.”  Genesis 2:15  We were created to work; what if this is our daily worship?  It reminded me of a quote I read a long time ago, when I was first introduced to the idea that God did not set up a secular/sacred divide in our work.  If money and trade and business were His idea, why would He not be right in the middle of it?

Peeling potatoes was more essential for Brother Lawrence’s spiritual growth than attending the evening prayer service because Brother Lawrence recognized that God was there in the kitchen as much as he was in the chapel.  -Andrew Spencer

I was especially delighted with the thought that when God made mankind on earth and gave us the mandate to cultivate it, He had hidden in the earth all the raw materials we need to create boats and cars and computers and fidget spinners.  Not only that, He hid in humans the intelligence to figure out how to make this stuff, trade it, ship it, and then how to manage it.  The business of creating products and services was all God’s brilliant idea to help us thrive on the earth.

I learned about what BAM (Business as Mission) is, and what it is not.  It is not business for missions, nor is it business to cover up the mission, as in restricted-access countries.  BAM refers to for-profit, sustainable businesses reflecting the kingdom of God in their mission and values, including these four bottom lines:

  1. Economic Profitability
  2. Social Impact
  3. Environmental Impact
  4. Spiritual Transformation

I believe Jesus is the answer to our soul’s greatest needs, but suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you tells him, “Go in peace; stay warm and well fed,” but does not provide for his physical needs, what good is that?  James 2

Lots of kind-hearted people have been touched by the plight of the poor in developing countries, and were moved to give from their abundance.  When I lived abroad, I was on the receiving end of containers from the USA, filled with clothes, shoes, food, all manner of donated items to help the poor.  It didn’t take me long to figure out that this creates a cycle of dependency that hurts the local economy, besides the psychological and spiritual difficulties this dependence creates in a society.

I now see that BAM brings beautiful answers to the problems of the poverty cycle.  One of our teachers in the SOBE has started a business in a country where desperate poverty has caused many women and children to be sold into the sex industry.  His business supplies a living wage for men and women to provide for their families with dignity, in an environment that champions them as valuable children of God.

In the past, Hj and I worked with several ministries that were fighting sex trafficking and prostitution.  The biggest struggle these ministries faced was trying to find viable jobs for women who sincerely wanted to leave, but felt that prostitution was the only means by which they could afford a house and food for their families.  BAM addresses these needs, through spiritual discipleship as well as restoring hope and dignity through jobs.

This isn’t just for developing nations.  As a school, we took a field trip to Denver to visit several businesses practicing BAM.  We saw a coffee roasting company that employs homeless young people, as well as a connected coffee shop that does the same.  We visited a discount building supply store and cabinet shop that employs men and women transitioning out of homelessness or prison.  In traditional business, I’m sure these are the people you don’t employ, but that’s the beauty and irony of the upside-down kingdom Jesus taught.  I asked the owner how hard it is to employ people that the rest of the world tends to marginalize, and his answer really surprised me.  “It’s really not hard at all.  They’re motivated to work!”  We joined them in a lunchtime Bible study the day we were there. I found it so inspiring to see firsthand the way God is transforming individual lives and society through these businesses.

 

So, that’s [some of] what I learned in the SOBE.

“There is no understanding of any domain or dominion without understanding its design and purpose before sin and the fall. We were not made for sin. Sin happened, so God must and we must deal with it. But we do not have governance, science, education, family, business, beauty and the arts, communication because we are fallen from God’s ideal. We do not have nations and cultures because, after sin, there was no other way we could be ruled. We have all of these arenas of life because we are created in the image of God and they are all part of revealing Him. They are all ways in which we know, see and worship God. Our work, creating communities that reflect who God is, is our worship now and forever.”  Landa L. Cope

 

 

 

 

Podcasts

Alternate title: One Way to Keep your Brain from Shrinking as a SAHM

Last time I was here, I was talking about talking.  I just listened to This American Life, the podcast version of the radio show.  Last weekend’s episode is called “Say Anything.”  It’s all about talking, believe it or not.  I have been listening to This American Life for as long as I can remember and I probably will for a long time into the future, so if you’ve been wanting to judge me as a crazy left-wing liberal, now’s a good time.

In this episode of the podcast, I learned about a man and woman who go on the streets of New York City with a little sign that says, “talk to me.”  At first, people are skeptical because they think they’re being sold Avon or Plexus or something.  But there really is no agenda besides inviting people to talk about whatever is on their minds.  Do you ever feel like maybe you’re wearing this sign on your forehead?  I do.

I listened to a podcast awhile back about a woman who was obese most of her life, but she came to a point as an adult where she told her friends and family that she was fat. She called it, “coming out” as a fat person. She grew up hoping that if she didn’t mention it, maybe no one would notice that she was overweight.  It seems foolish to admit it, but that’s how I feel about leaving the Mennonites. Maybe if I don’t mention it, nobody will notice.

I’ve gotten used to being interesting to most people and I wonder how my children will handle boring small talk without being able to casually bring up the fact that they were raised Mennonite. That always unleashes a myriad of questions and observations. “So maybe you can explain to me the difference between Amish and Mennonites?”  That’s one I could answer in my sleep.  I learned some of what I know from a podcast episode called “Who Are The Amish?” from Stuff You Should Know. They’re the ones who taught me that Mennonites came first, then Amish.  From them, I also learned the three reasons the Amish split from the Mennonites.

When I’m cooking dinner, I let my kids watch Peppa Pig and I stick my earbuds into my ears and listen to podcasts while I’m busy in the kitchen.  (If you have been wanting to judge me as a lackadaisical mom, this is the perfect time.)  Lately I feel like I don’t have much time to sit down and read, so podcasts keep my brain on its proverbial toes.  I’d feel better about myself if I were listening to audiobooks but I can’t ever find good ones for free.

Sometimes I branch out and try new podcasts, but I always go back to the same handful that I’ve listened to for years.  However, this year I added a new one to my rotation as soon as it came out.  It’s called How I Built This, “a show about innovators, idealists and entrepreneurs and the stories behind the movements.”  I found the interview with the TOMs shoes guy especially interesting.  In the business school I’ve been staffing, we watched a documentary called Poverty Inc. (find it on Netflix!) that shows why a business model like TOMs is disruptive to markets in developing countries.  I was so happy to hear the TOMs guy say that he agreed with this criticism and they now manufacture over 40% of the shoes in the countries where they give them away.  I thought that was pretty humble of him to admit that they really needed to work on this aspect of their company.

The episode about Whole Foods didn’t have that same humble vibe, to be honest.

One podcast I tried recently is a lady who asks people personal questions, on topics we normally consider taboo (politics and money and such).  I forget what it’s called.  I found the concept intriguing but I was disappointed by the interview.  It just sounded like a normal American conversation to me, nothing too deep or uncomfortable.

I have never thought of myself as a creature of habit, but maybe I am; I do stick to my favorites.  It’s not a podcast, but I’ve listened to this so many hundreds of times over the years that I almost have it memorized.  So, if you would send me your favorite episode of your favorite podcast, I would love to listen to the things you are finding fascinating these days.

Talking

Maybe the reason I find social media awkward is because I picture everything.  When you send me an emoji, I picture you making that face.  😯 When I post something on Instagram, I actually picture myself standing on a platform behind a pulpit, saying the caption aloud to 150 people/followers.  (This includes an overhead projection of my photo.)  When I write a blog post and nobody comments, I feel like a whole bunch of people are silently sitting in a circle, staring at me after I just shared my heart with them.

I guess I should just keep talking.

Whenever I’m around people who are married, I always have this burning question on my mind: “How is your marriage going, for real?”  In 6 years of marriage, I might have been asked that question once.  It seems like your marriage relationship is a pretty big part of your life if you’re married, but I guess people want to honor and respect their partners by never talking about them.  I just love talking about marriage, but how do you casually ease into the subject?

I wonder if I should just keep talking.

A lot of people left our church recently.  We’ve been there for a year and a half so we feel pretty at home.  It’s an odd conversation to have when your friend says, “I wanted to tell you we started going to another church.”  What is the appropriate thing to say?  Do you offer sympathy?  Do you hide your surprise or display it?  Do you ask more questions or was that the end of the conversation?  I think I said something smooth and cool like, “Oh!  Ok.”

I bet I shouldn’t just keep talking.

The thing about old people is, they love to talk.  They have so many interesting stories to tell, including all the details and dates and people you don’t know.  I was trying to think of a new type of event we could do at our coffee shop, and I thought of “Olde-Tyme Story Thyme,” where we invite old people to talk for 2 hours straight about whatever they want.  I imagine the audience knitting, painting, and checking Facebook on their phones, all while listening to an elderly person talk about.  Maybe if the old people get all the stories out that are stuck in their head, they won’t hold me up in the check out line.

I should really stop talking.

I’ve had a blog post in my drafts for months.  It’s called, “De-plaining” and it’s all about how I used to be plain but I’m not anymore.  You would probably find it very interesting but I’m not sure how interesting I’m up for being at the moment.  Basically, I wrestle with the question of whether it’s possible to leave the Mennonites or not, which is another one of those questions burning on my mind, but I feel isn’t welcome in polite society.

I stopped talking, for now.

Updated update

VISITORS!
Hj’s sister came for a few weeks to visit us, all the way from Holland.  She brought her little daughter Feline along, as well as her friend named Rosalie.  They arrived on koningsdag, the day when the king’s birthday is celebrated in Holland, so we got to start their visit off with festivities!

They went on lots of adventures and the kids got to play together to their hearts’ content and maybe even beyond.  🙂  There are plenty of things to do around the Springs, and they even spent a weekend with our friend in Estes Park and explored Rocky Mountain National Park.

         

Feline’s birthday was a few days after they left, so we threw an early birthday party for her and Ellie, who will turn 4 next month.  It was so interesting to hear them communicate, in English and Dutch, sometimes figuring it out and sometimes getting frustrated when they were trying to pretend a story.

More recently, we had some of my family come visit!  It’s very hard for me to fathom, but those beautiful women flanking me are my nieces.  Last week we were having tea parties and swimming in the Pomeroon River and this week they are old enough to cut their own pancakes!  The rest of their family was here too; I just failed to get pictures.

This is the other day Andrew’s were visiting– we  took the train up Pike’s Peak and stopped halfway up where there was still enough snow to make a snowman.  Adam found that amusing, it seems.

SOBE!
While Martine was here, the SOBE (School of Business and Entrepreneurship) started.  I am staffing that school, which means I am in class every day with the students, sitting in on the lectures.  We have 13 students from around the world and it has been a delight to get to know them and their visions!

Most days, this is my view from the back of the classroom.  I’m learning so much from each of our knowledgable speakers, as well as from the students.  Meanwhile Hj is at home with the kids, being humble and loving and sacrificial and cheering for me every day!

ART!
I have organized a series of summer art classes for our campus.  It has proved to be a really profound experience and we have encountered Jesus in every lesson!  Yesterday after the art class, I found one of the older students in a corner weeping at what God was revealing to her through the process of creating.

WASHINGTON DC!
I spent Mother’s Day weekend in Washington DC with a number of friends and family.  These 3 beautiful women came with me all the way from Colorado Springs.

We were there to pray for God to move in the Supreme Court, that we would see an end to abortion in our country very soon.  It was a really powerful, beautiful time.  It is such an honor to stand as humans and pray for LIFE.

This year we circled the Supreme Court seven times, praying for seven different areas that relate to the abortion industry and fatherlessness.  My faith was renewed and the flickering flame of hope was fanned in my heart.

We spent an extra day sightseeing in DC, as the ladies traveling with me had never been there before.  I had seen the city plenty of times during the day, but seeing it at night was a whole new experience which I loved!  It felt even more grand and majestic than normal.

FAMILY!
At the end of every day, I am so grateful for the little family I get to call mine.  Before bedtime, we like to sit in a circle, hold hands and talk about the best parts of our day, as well as the sad parts.  Adam’s favorite part of the day is usually, “when Papa came back.”

Ellie  Adam  (typed by Ellie!)

I asked Ellie to write the captions for these photos.  She says, “These two pictures are for God and Jesus, one funny and one happy.  Did you know the devil hates pictures?”  Those are little undies on her head, which she discovered work great as a head covering.

          

Ellie spent the last 2 months in our preschool here on base, two mornings a week.  She loved it and will be going again in the fall.  Adam misses her a lot on those days, and sometimes I think how ironic that having two kids at home is so much easier than having one.

I’ve been reminded lately that 2-year-olds are about the most charming little creatures in the universe.  I feel like I have my own little show to watch every day as he discovers the world and language and his own opinions.