Monday, April 27, 2009

Life starts again...

So I suppose this will be the norm for a little while - this whole only blogging enough to not feel like a total loser, but not quite often enough to call myself a true "blogger." Such is life.

The Flu Disaster of 2009 has finally passed. I cross my fingers and toes while knocking on wood as I type that statement because it seems like every time I say something like that, that nasty bug comes back with a vengeance. But, three weeks, two doctor's visits, and a busted eardrum later, I think I can finally say "goodbye" to all that has held me back over the last 20 days.

Actually, it's been fading into a memory for two or three days now. But because I have been sitting on my bedonka-donk for three week, my house (quite literally) was starting to fall apart at the seams. I still have a couple days' work before I can consider myself "caught up," but at least we're back in the "livable" phase of housework.

But I can't completely blame the Flu and the Housework for my lack of posts. As I have mentioned before, I really feel as if the Lord is using this time in Korea to teach me about the Hidden Things. As much as I would like to tell you that I am discovering "hidden things" in the Word and in Him, that's not so much what this lesson has been about (so far?).

This lesson has been about my hidden things - the areas in my heart and life that probably aren't designed to be shared with the world. I've been in this "seminar" long enough to know that there are things in my life and in my relationship with the Lord that are intended to remain private, secret, and even hidden. However, I haven't been here long enough to actually learn what those things are.

Wow. I don't think I've ever written a more vague paragraph in my life.

Basically, here's where it's at: Until I know what should be discussed, I might not be discussing much. Sorry in advance.

However, despite this new lesson in privacy, I have decided to blog about an area that I have always to considered too private for the likes of my public blog: my weight.

That's right, y'all. I'm putting it alll out there. Ok. Well. Maybe not alll... like, um, my actual weight. Yeah, if I ever punch those numbers into the keyboard, you can assume my mind has been captured by miniature space invaders. Send help.

What I will write about is my next phase in life - the phase I like to call the "Finally Taking Care of Myself" phase. To Be Continued...

Friday, April 24, 2009

24 Hour Frenzy...

Sometime yesterday afternoon, this cruel sinus infection gave way to a sudden jolt of "nesting" instincts.

In the last 24 hours, I have...

...cleaned the laundry room from floor to ceiling.
...completed 4 loads of laundry, start to finish.
...scrubbed the entire bathroom, fumes be darned.
...swept, mopped, scrubbed, and wiped every inch of the porch.
...purged the books, toys, and magazines in the living room.
...dusted/windex'd all shelves and drawers in the entertainment center (plus all electronics).
...rearranged entertainment center drawers (much to the chagrin of Sweet Hubby).

So after all that, I decided that this mommy deserved a nice long, hot shower. Sure, I had another hour or so of work left to do in the Living Room, but there would still be time before Chloe awoke from her afternoon nap.

Then it happened. Remember that testy little ruptured ear drum? Well, it got wet. That is to say, I completely forgot about it until 2.5 ka-jillion gallons of hot shower water poured into it. Then it became... a little less hard to forget.

So here I am, back on the couch, nursing an achy ear, jaw, and cheekbone and just thinking about all the things I would LIKE to be up doing.

In happier news, my friend Ansley is coming over to hang out this evening. I think perhaps I will ask her to pick up some good ol' American McD's on the way so I don't have to worry about dinner.

Tomorrow is supposed to be rainy and cold. Sounds like the perfect day to start a new book and drink too much hot chocolate. Don't mind if I do.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

But I want it MY way....

Ever read one of those books that you just hated because you knew it was right? Yeah, me neither... until now, that is.

As I shared before, I'm making my way through Ordering Your Private World by Gordon MacDonald.

Here's today's excerpt from pp. 176-177:

"A third reason prayer comes hard to us is the fact that it seems frequently unrelated to actual results. Lest you think I am guilty of denying a substantial teaching of Scripture, hear me carefully. I do in fact believe that God answers prayer. But most of us have had enough experience to realize that His answers do not always come in forms or on schedules that we would have designed....

"Like others, I have prayed for healings, for miracles, for guidance, and for assistance. Frankly, there were times I was sure God would answer me because I had mustered strong feelings of faith. But many of those times nothing happened -- or if it did, it was entirely unlike what I had anticipated.

"We live in a society that is reasonably organized. Put a letter in the box, and it usually ends up where you want it to go. Order an item on the internet, and it usually comes to you in the right size, color, and model. Ask someone to provide you a service, and it is reasonable to expect that it will work out that way. In other words, we are used to results in response to our arrangements. That is why prayer can by discouraging for some of us. How can we predict the result? We are tempted to abandon prayer as a viable exercise and to try getting the results ourselves.

"But the fact is that my prayer life cannot be directly tied to the results I expect or demand. I have had many opportunities by now to see that the things I want God to do in response to my prayers can be unhealthy for me. I have begun to see that worship and intercession are far more the business of aligning myself with God's purposes that asking Him to align with mine."

Well, sure. I needed a kick in the bee-hind today. Thankyouverymuch.

More excuses...

So this whole flu thing has taken several twists and turns before finally landing me with the worst sinus headache I've ever had. This is day 3 of said pain. Each time I think it's gone, when I think I might finally be able to get some things done (i.e. clean, go outside, blog), it just comes right back like a bad enchilada. Ew. Sorry for the visual there.

Since I assume you have no interest in reading about the ins and outs of a nasty sinus infection for which there appears to be no relief, I shall end this rather pitiful excuse for a post rather quickly.

As soon as I have regained control of my senses (and my sinuses) I shall return for bigger and better updates.


Saturday, April 18, 2009

14 days.

14 days ago: Chloe starts sniffling and snorting.
13 days ago: She sneezes in the general direction of my mouth and nose.
12 days ago: I start sniffling and snorting.
11 days ago: Fever and Flu for two, please.
10 days ago: A second serving? Why not.
9 days ago: Fever breaking? Can I dare to hope?
8 days ago: Fever gone, Flu carries on undeterred.
7 days ago: Dear Mr.Flu, you have made me miserable long enough.
6 days ago: Easter Sunday Service, then back in bed (oh! my head!). Contractions start at 9pm.
5 days ago: Contractions stop, but apparently nobody told the baby.
4 days ago: Off to the hospital lickity-split.
3 days ago: Bed rest. Flu is finally subsiding.
2 days ago: Bed rest.
1 day ago: Off bed rest! How about a day outside? What's that? An ear infection on the side? Don't mind if I do.
19 hours ago: Ear infection = ruptured ear drum. Yowza!
10 hours ago: Feeling quite sorry for myself.
6 hours ago: Ansley and EunYoung show up at my door bearing cake and presents. A small surprise baby shower!
2 hours ago: Home from shopping with Ansley and EunYoung. Another piece of cake? I think I've earned it.
Present: Cuddled on the couch with hubby, contemplating taking a couple Tylenol (darn ear) and going to bed.

So, it hasn't been the best two weeks of my life, but I can see many ways in which it could have been much worse.

2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Ahhhh....the sunshine.... Ahhhhhhhh.... the sunshine....

Nothing much to report today. Since the "issues" that were issuing are no longer issuing, I am officially off bed rest as of 10:00 this morning. Already I have washed two days' worth of dishes, folded three baskets of clothes, hung up one load of laundry, started another load, picked up all the toys (which somehow end up in every far corner and under every piece of furniture in the house), gave Chloe a bath, put her down for a nap, and convinced my husband to make the long trek across the street to deliver our trash to the dumpster.

Now, though I am nowhere near catching up housework from a week of the flu and a week of pregnancy issues, I am taking a moment to sit on my couch and listen to the quiet rhythms of our home. Hubby is going to Seoul for some ministry stuff today, and as I type this, I hear his footsteps fading into the corridor and down the stairs that lead outside. The washing machine in humming away as if to say "Don't you worry your sweet little self about this here laundry. You just sit there and enjoy a second cup of coffee while I wash these here socks for you, bless your heart." (I realize she's a Korean machine, but in my mind, she will always have a southern accent.) Chloe's sound machine gently pitter-patters the sound of gentle rain on a tin roof. It's just soft enough so that I can still hear her deep breaths as she enjoys her afternoon nap.

The weather is gloomy here. Chilly, overcast, and threatening rain. But I don't mind. Wasn't planning to go anywhere today anyways.

I just wanted to remind myself that, regardless of what difficulties come up (in this case the flu and pre-labor), it doesn't last forever. Soon after those trials fade, life does and will return to the normal, peaceful existence our little family loves.

The last couple weeks have been a bit trying, but today, despite the gloomy skies, I can see the sun coming out again.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

"He works all things together for good..."

The last few days have held a flurry of activity in our little home. Sunday night, I started having some fairly regular contractions, and though they had stopped by early Monday morning, they apparently set some things into motion that shouldn't be set for at least another three weeks. After a couple days of waiting and a rather panicked trip to the doctor, it was determined that a couple days of bed rest should put a halt to any further developments. So, here I am, snuggled up on the couch with a cup of hot tea (ok, so it's coffee... but tea sounds so much more sophisticated, don't you think?) a couple good books, and of course, my trusty laptop.

I have been a little concerned all along about the potential of going into labor before my mom arrives. She was/is scheduled to fly into Seoul on May 15, since my due date was/is May 20. But throughout this pregnancy, the baby has measured big and things have consistently happened about a month before they did with my first pregnancy. So I have spent many a sleepless night thinking about the best scenario for our "Plan B," should this little one decide to grace us with her presence earlier than expected.

This has actually been a fairly major worry (and prayer) of mine for the last month or so: What will happen to Chloe if I go into labor before my mom gets here?

We have things in place. Bags are packed. Samonims are on alert. We have an "emergency ride" to the hospital. We have one Samonim who will come over if I go into labor in the middle of the night, and a different Samonim who will come get Chloe if I go in the middle of the day.

Plus, the hospital is a quick 7 minute taxi ride from our home; so once the baby is here, Brandon will be able to come back and care for her (or at least check on her) fairly often.

So I know her physical needs will be met. She will have clothes to wear and food to eat. She will have somewhere to sleep and someone to care for her.

But it's the emotional stuff for which I have been concerned...the little things that make such a huge difference to a two-year-old who is away from family. Can I tell them that she likes peanut butter and bread for breakfast? Or that she has to have her "cloud blanket, big baby, and little baby" in the bed with her when she goes to sleep? Or that Goodnight Moon is her favorite bedtime book?

How will she react when I have to leave her with the Samonim? Will she cry? Will she be worried? Will she be able to communicate her needs to women who barely speak English?

These are the things for which I have spent much time praying. I realize that many of these things are out of my control; and so I must place her into the hands of her Abba.

But this week, I have felt the Lord's grace towards me as a mom. Yesterday, with all its ups and downs, served as a bit of a trial run for labor. I woke up in the morning and, after taking stock of the situation, decided that I would try to leave for the hospital in less than an hour. Brandon called his people, and I called mine. Forty-five minutes later, three Samonims showed up at my door - two to get Chloe, and one to offer translation for me at the hospital. Because of a time conflict, I ended up going to the hospital by myself, but not before walking Chloe upstairs to Samonim's house to see how she would do. I explained to her that mommy had to go visit the doctor and that she was going to stay and play with the other children. She was hesitant at first, but after some bribing in the form of sugary sweets, I was able to leave her (cookie in hand) playing happily with the other children. The whole "good-bye" took less than 2 minutes.

When I arrived home from the hospital (a trip that took a little more than an hour) our senior pastor's wife had already prepared a meal for our family so that I could rest the remainder of the day.

And since I am on bed rest for another 36 hours, the Samonims have divided up shifts to take care of Chloe for me. Again, I didn't know how Chloe would react when one of them showed up at my door this morning to take her to church, but she quickly sat down, put on her shoes, strapped on her backpack, and headed out the door without so much as a "goodbye, mommy."

I was and am so relieved.

I realize there is no substitute for mommy... or daddy... or grandma.... But at least I know she will be ok. She will manage and may even be happy, should I go into labor early.

So with all the stress and concern that happened this week, I see the Lord's hand calming my mommy-heart. He is taking care of Chloe Jane, and He will continue to do so when I am not there to see it.

Welp, I'm off to fold some clothes. It's the only real housework I can do while still sitting on the couch. Good thing I have three baskets-full that need my attention.

Wishing everyone a great day and evening. Toodle pip.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

An excerpt...

Ok. So maybe it is just the timing of things, but this book is ripping me apart. Not sure if this will speak to anyone else, but here is an excerpt from Ordering Your Private World, by Gordon MacDonald, pp 68-70.

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip was tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene, in the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John, the son of Zacharias, in the wilderness. And he came into all the district around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. (Luke 3:1-3)

"These words contain an intriguing insight. Caesar, we’re reminded, was in Rome doing whatever important things Caesars do. Annas and Caiaphas, major-league priests, were in the Jerusalem temple promoting organized religion. And various other political personalities were going and coming in public places, participating in seemingly newsworthy events. Their worlds were the impressive public worlds of power, notoriety, and human connection.

"Then this: But the word of God came to John, an insignificant man in the most insignificant of places: a desert. Why John? And why a desert? Think about it!

"Why John? First answer: Only God knows. Beyond that, one simply has to say because John responded. The call demanded submission to God’s ways, God’s methods, and God’s criteria for success. And John was willing to accept those terms no matter what the cost to him in pain or loneliness.

"Why a desert? Perhaps because in the deserts people can hear and brood upon things not easily heard or thought about in busy cities, where people are usually hurried, surrounded by noise, and steeped in self-importance. Sometimes in cities the shrillness of the public life is so great that the whispering voice of god cannot be heard. And sometimes in cities, people are too proud to listen to God amid all of their steel and concrete skyscrapers, their colorful theaters, or their incredible temples.

"God drew John into the desert where He could speak to him. And when He got him there He began to stamp impressions onto John’s inner world that gave the son of Zacharias a totally different perspective on his times. There in the desert he gained a new view of religion, of right and wrong, of God’s purposes for history. And there he developed a special sensitivity and courage that would prepare him for his most extraordinary task: introducing his generation to the Christ. His private world was under construction – in the desert."

Let's Lighten Things Up, Up in Here...

I seriously can't get enough of this guy. SO funny...

FYI: This is the second entry of the day. Don't forget to scroll down for the first!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Lifesize Sinkholes

I originally wrote this in my private journal and have been debating with myself about whether or not to post it here. But sometimes "being real" with others is necessary... so here's as real as it gets...

Since arriving in Korea, it has become more and more clear what "theme"(or "themes") the Lord is teaching me in this season.

Discipline. Quiet. Even silence. And being hidden in Him.

I'm not sure I can explain the things He has been showing me, as many of them have not been taught through actual words (like our past "lessons"). This time in Korea has left me examining who I really am. When there's no job, no school, no grades, no "best" friends, no family, no errands, no background noise. When all of those things are stripped away, I am forced to look at myself - I mean, really look - and see what is there. Who am I when I am home, in relative quiet, for hours a day? Who am I when I cannot define myself by my job skills or my grades? Who am I when the most interesting thing that happens to me in a day comes in the form of crayons on the wall?

I find myself searching for an identity in this place. For a few weeks now, I have truly been enjoying my "identity" as a wife and mother. I scour the internet for tips and ideas that will make me "the best" at what I do.

And while I don't believe striving for my best is wrong in and of itself, the Lord stopped me in the midst of my "efforts" and quieted me before Him once again.

I am once again looking for an identity - this time in my role as wife and mother.

During this time, the Lord continues to bring to mind all of the "identities" to which I have clung throughout my life: Straight-"A" student, musician, church leader, business woman, not-so-straight-"A" student, children's pastor, and now: wife, mother, Samonim.

The problem is not that I want to do my best in these roles. The problem is that I want these roles to define me. I want these positions and titles to tell the world who I am.

I'm humbled to say that I have taken pride in some of the "positions" and even have found myself prideful of the fact that I am now a full-time SAHM.

But the Lord is revealing to me ever so gently that each of these identities were and are fleeting. They came, and for a season they defined my existence. But they are transient, like bubbles in the wind - giving a distorted perception of reality and then vanishing into vapor - leaving me disillusioned and searching for another "frame" through which I can define myself.

But when I look underneath all those layers - all the strife and pride that comes with defining myself through my positions - I'm not sure how much is left.

And this realization is what has quieted my spirit over the last few weeks.

The Lord has slowly and gently been peeling back the layers of my so-called identity to reveal my heart.

And i can't say I'm thrilled with what I am finding.

To add emphasis to this "lesson" I received a surprise gift in the mail: a book entitled "Ordering Your Private World" by Gordon MacDonald.

In this book, there is a chapter dedicated entirely to the concept of "sinkholes."

Sinkholes in nature occur when an underground stream dries up due to extreme drought. The rocks around that stream - which are the supporting foundation for all that abide above ground - become brittle and frail and, eventually, collapse. As a result, all of the above-ground construction crumbles and falls into the newly created "sinkhole."

The author goes on to describe the "sinkhole" mentality in people. We build fancy buildings, highways, tunnels, and bridges - all above ground, and all supported by the tiniest stream that could potentially dry up at the first sign of drought. And because we pay little attention to who and what we are below the surface, all that we have constructed above the surface is destined to crumble.

This has been a sobering thought for me over the past few days.

I am humbled and quieted as I admit to myself and to the Lord that I am a user and abuser of the sinkhole mentality.

Most of my life has been dedicated to the above-ground, observable me. My jobs, my education, my awards, even my home have consumed most of my time, energy, efforts, and yes, even most of my identity.

But when those things are stripped away, when I am forced to look below the surface at the trickling stream that supports my above-ground construction, it is truly a scary sight.

So far, that little bit of underground water has been enough to prevent a total collapse of my "empire." But who knows how long that can last? If I keep heaping identity upon identity above the surface and completely neglecting that underneath, secret identity that only the Lord and I can see, I am destined to collapse. It's a law of nature.

And so somehow today, on this Easter Sunday, I am humbled and grateful that these weaknesses in my foundation have been exposed. And I feel as if I understand, at least in a very small part, why He has been teaching me about quiet discipline, the importance of silence, and the joys of being hidden in Him.

I have a feeling this "trip" overseas may not turn out how I expected. The things I hoped to learn, and the ways I hoped to grow... they somehow seem insignificant now.

And the Lord is birthing a new desire in me... a desire that can only be found in the silence and stillness of His presence.

Sick and Tired of being Sick and Tired...

The past few days have filled our house with sniffles, snorts, coughs, and sneezes as the worst cold/flu of 2009 swept through. Sweet Hubby somehow avoided this nasty bug, but sadly Chloe and I were not spared its cruelty. We are still fighting it, but the fever has broken and the end is in sight, my friends.

What really stinks about this cold is its timing. This week has brought the most beautiful weather we have seen since moving to Korea. Our windows stay open 24/7, and the warm spring breeze taunts me as I blow my nose for the 2,635,709th time.

However, I won't complain any longer about the timing because it just so happens that as this flu bug restricted me to the couch for several days, two Very Exciting packages came in the mail just For Me!

The first arrived on Wednesday as a birthday gift from my friend Christan. This girl knows me so well that she bought me the one and only gift on this earth that I desperately wanted even though I didn't know it existed: Multiple Blessings by the fabulous Kate Gosselin (from Jon & Kate plus 8) This is absolutely my favorite show on TV these days, and I have been having serious withdrawals from this not-so-little family since I cannot get it (on TV or online) here in Korea. But who knew that there was a BOOK out there telling the "behind-the-scenes" story? Christan, that's who. And she sent it to me! *woot*

Any other time, this book would have lasted me a good week or two as I would try to squeeze it in between our normal daily activities. However, due to the flu's ability to keep me on the couch for hours on end, I finished this book in 24 hours. No worries though, I plan to read it again in the near future... and this time I'll try to make it last at least 2 days. Promise.

But that's not all, folks. This morning, I got yet ANOTHER box in the mail. This one, from my wonderful stepdad, contained THREE books for my reading pleasure!! Woo hoo!!!

I started reading one of them this afternoon, but I shall leave those titles and reviews for another post. Still, I am SO excited to have something to read other than on-line American newspapers.

In other news, the pregnancy is coming along splendidly. She is still measuring large, but not so large as to really worry the doctor. I go to get ultrasounds every two weeks just to make sure she's not in any distress, but so far we're good as gold.

There are more things to write, but VeggieTales just went off. So I'm off to find other low-key entertainment for my sick toddler (and myself).

Happy Easter!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Home sweet home

Hello, computer. I have missed you. I'm sorry that we have only had a few fleeting glances over the past few days, but I understand that your relationship with my hard-working hubby is of greater importance than this here little bloggy. Thank you for returning to me, even if it is only for 30 minutes.

As promised, the "post" I wrote a few days ago...

I am having one of those rare mommy moments of complete independence. This is only the second time since arriving in this country that I have ventured out on my own, sans baby or hubby. So I did what any female in her right mind does with some yummy free time - shop and eat. Specifically, I went shopping for baby items and munched on some good ol' American McD's.

Life is finally feeling normal here. Last week, after spending several hours in Seoul, our friend Ansley drove us home. It was in the midst of this drive that I won a small mental victory. The entire way home, I honestly had no idea where we were or how far we were from Cheonan. Were it not for the ever-reliable GPS in Ansley's car, I might have even panicked a little bit. But as soon as we arrived in the city, I immediatly recognized where we were. But not only that; I also recognized in myself a sense of relief that we were finally "home" - and not just "home" as in "my house" but "home" as in "our hometown."

Something about that small mental/emotional event has changed my mentality here. I am suddenly recognizing that the things that once felt overwhelming and exhausting have become normal and mundane. Trips to the store are no longer scary, uncertain, three-hour ordeals. Even going across town to a mega-store by myself (like I did tonight) is a peaceful, enjoyable event.

I'm not really sure when it happened, but suddenly (and finally!) Cheonan has become home. I honestly can't think of one "new" thing that happened this week, and I find great delight in that fact.

And it's not just that the city has become more familiar to us, but I think we have become more familiar to the city too. People who once stared and gawked at our every move, now greet us like old friends: the lady at the grocery store, the guy at Dunkin Donuts, and the English-speaking gentleman in the toy store.

We're really starting to find our groove here. Luckily, someone told us about this. They said, "The first month is a whirlwind. The second month is very difficult. But by the end of the third month, you will realize that you're going to be ok."

And that's almost exactly how it happened, my friends. I'm sure there will still be new "adventures," and I'm sure we're not finished growing and stretching. But for right now, it's nice to just be home.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Until then...

I have a nice little post all written and ready in my paper journal. Seriously, it's just a-waitin' and a-ready to be transcribed onto the internet for all y'all.

However, hubby needs the computer all day today for work. He's selfish like that... always working so hard. :)

So it will have to keep a-waitin' until I have some good quality time - just me and ye olde computer.

Until then, my friends, until then...

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Short, sweet, and to the point.

Needing some grace in this season.

Despite my best efforts, my house is messy quite a bit.

I just can't work like I could pre-baby-drop. Too much time on my feet leaves me breathless with contractions (not to mention the nasty cankles that pop up).

So at the end of every day, I make a mental list of the things I got done that day.

For example, today I:
washed a sink-full of dishes (by hand, my friends)
walked to the grocery store
purchased and put away groceries
took a shower
gave Chloe a shower
cleaned the bathroom
cooked dinner

Sure, there are things that didn't get done:
bed making
chloe's room

But I'll put them on the list for tomorrow.
Then (and here's my most important resolution) I will submit that list to the Lord and accept grace for it all - the things that do get done and the things that don't.

It's all I know to do right now... that, and pray that no Samonims show up at my door for a visit.

The Quote That Started It All...

I myself have twelve hats, each one representing a different personality. Why be just yourself? - Margaret Atwood