Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Workin It

Last night, Rey and I had one of those conversations that I'd felt coming for a while. You know... those conversations. It wasn't the funnest of topics--but, what was great was getting maybe a little closer to understanding what makes each of us tick.

Did you know you can figure out a lot about a person's take on life--or at least work philosophy--by how they eat??

Our conversation was about our completely-different-not-even-similar ways of going at a job list. I think: Make a list, prioritize, do it. He thinks.... hmmm. What was going on in there? It seemed that he had no sense of time management, no sense of level of priority.

It was driving me bonkers.

So, after scooting around the issue for quite some time, we began to talk about "what is the deal"? In the conversation, I was talking about just "getting things done and over with". In that theme, I talked about how (especially as a kid) when I was presented with a plate of food, I would visually divide it into food I didn't like, food I liked, and food I loved. I would always start with the food I hated to get it over with, and end with the food I loved to reward myself. My thought was, "Get it out of the way".

Ya know what Rey said? He said when he was in the same situation, he started off with food he liked, then went to the food he hated, and then ended up with food he liked. That he needed to sandwich the bad between the good.

And that, my friends, basically summarized our work philosophies. While I tend to think the more yucky stuff needs to get done right away and quickly, Rey has to mentally get himself into the position to do the yucky by doing another task he enjoys.

See, that's another thing. Rey enjoys working. He looses himself in his work and comes out on the other side with a big grin on his face.

I, on the other hand, work with a tyrant in my brain. The tyrant says, "Get off your butt, ya big lazy slob. Don't you see those dishes stacked up and the dirt on the floor? What are you? A filthy good-for-nothin'---"--you get the idea.

When Rey works, he thinks flowers and butterflies (I asked him!).

Ahh, and the clashing begins. I, angry from trying to escape the pushy, judgemental motivator in my head, begin chafing as I watch Rey happily spending 5 hours on a job I would have done in 20 minutes.

Rey, being yanked from his tranquil scrubbing by a scowling face and a "hurry-it-up-wouldja" attitude, sinks into anger mixed with frustration. "What's her problem? I'm being productive, aren't I?"

He's enjoying the good so he can eventually enjoy the bad, while I am just rushing to get it over with and move on. I really can't imagine enjoying most of the work I do. Rey says I should just stop doing things unless I really want to do them. He says it is evident when I am doing things without the "want to".

Maybe I can't stop changing diapers, scrubbing the floor or cleaning the toilet--but his attitude towards work makes me think of "whatever you do, do it heartily ['with your heart'] as to the Lord." Rey says when he does do something, it's coming from a heart-desire to do it.

I often work because I feel it is expected of me. I feel that I will be judged if I don't and that I will be a lesser person. I work for compliments and recognition. I work from a fear of failure. I work, and feel that no matter what, it's not enough.

It is interesting to look back and see what shapes ones view of work. I can see where I got many of my feelings towards work--and am working at trying to see my daily tasks through new eyes.

What about you? How do you empty your plate?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

It's kind of obvious....

I was reading this book for the second (maybe third) time, and came to the chapter called "Maternal Gatekeepers". I thought maybe it would be about how great it us that us mommas are like angry bears keeping any and all things away from our cubs.

Well, the angry bear part was right, but not so much the "great" part. You see, the author was speaking to those of us who feel as though only we know the exact right way to wipe our kid's nose, change his diaper, nourish his body. Those of us ask our husbands to do something--and then hover over their shoulders, ready to "assist" (read "correct") at any needed time.

How humiliating. Do we not remember we are sharing the house with another adult? Another person so exceedingly wise and brilliant--that we decided to pledge our lives to him? Isn't it amazing, then, that we often don't even stop to think that maybe his "different" is ok, or maybe even (heaven forbid) better than our way?

I speak to myself. I often am that mother bear. I often am the person that says, "Hon, can you turn on a movie for Noah? Nooo... not that one, he just saw it." Or, "Can you take him on a walk? Hey, be careful he doesn't fall..." Just to name a few.

Me, thinking: I'm just helping. Me, really sending the message: You're incompetent.

I've begun to step back. To button my lip. To let him parent. To praise every chance I get. To take his side over the children's-- every time. When daddy's in charge, daddy's in charge. No intervention (read "criticism") from mommy.

And ya know what? A huge burden has slipped from my shoulders. And a feeling of respect for my man is replacing the furrowed brow of imagined mistakes. I no longer fume inwardly about "parenting" 3 people. I look at my husband and see him as my love, not my annoyance.

He says he likes it, too.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


It's 8:30 pm. For me, my day's work as a momma is virtually over. It is a time when it feels as though a great load has slid from my shoulders. I breathe more deeply, relax.

I went up to our 4th floor roof/patio to bring in the laundry off the line. The sky is still brightened by the setting sun, clouds are rimmed in silvery gold light. Lights are beginning to twinkle on in the houses spread out below me. The city streets and buildings are adorned with a palm tree or two, mesquite here and potted plants there. Cars seem to drive slower, families walk by hand-in-hand, children's voices at play waft up to me on the breeze.

I love this view: the city hemmed in by mountains all around. When I spend time up here on the roof, staring out beyond the city to the mountains, my mind drifts to Rey. To the communities there, beyond. To the natural beauty that lies just 10 minutes drive outside the city in any direction. I never grow tired of gazing at the countryside in the place we live.

Unclipping onesies and t-shirts from the clothesline, I say a prayer for our city, for the cities around us. And for Rey. And, inevitably, I realize a question is playing in my mind:

But, what am I here for?

Not "here", as in alive on earth. But here, as in Fresnillo instead of somewhere else. Am I supposed to be here? What difference is my being here making, as opposed to living--say--where I was born and raised?

Staying at home with my little darlings wasn't exactly what I had imagined when I dreamed of adventurous missionary life as a girl. No, I was supposed to be hacking through the jungles and saving orphan children from disaster! Missionaries don't just stay home, changing diapers and wiping spit-up off their shirts while singing, "It's raining, it's pouring". They don't just mop the floors and prepare their meals while their husbands are out "doing the work"--do they?

I have thought about how "inconvenient" this specific kind of missionary work is for the stage of life I am in. Rey travels to communities that can be up to 5 hours away--one way! Many of these communities are still in the "street evangelism stage". Real conducive to nap-times and good, healthy meals! Now, if we were planting a church... I muse....

However, I have found a place of contentment in this: It's real simple. I am here because I am obeying God's call. I am here because I am Rey's support. I am here because I am the mother, the teacher, the molder, the stability of our two children. I am here. And I am a missionary. And it is an adventure.

And, those clothes I got off the line? I'd better go fold them now.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Cultural Relativity

It can be odd at times-- this blending in when there's really no possible way you can blend in. Like a horse clucking in a group of chickens. It's a nice effort, but you can spot the odd man out right away.

And that's what I am, for the most part. The odd woman. I like to think I am in, not out. It is so un-American to try to accommodate or become like another culture. To consider that possibly their way of doing things may have a reason behind it--or even be better than how I was raised to do it.

I fluctuate between thinking, "Don't create noise" and "Hey, yeah! I'm weird, your weird-- so how's the weather?" In other words, it is a daily learning to be comfortable in my own skin in a place where I am virtually the only one wearing my kind of skin. Or language. Or customs.

Things are harder here, and generally much simpler. I often find myself trying to downplay my "American-ess", and then questioning if that is right. For example: I have a strong liking for interior decorating, for making what was ugly and un-livable into something beautiful and functional. Decorating isn't really a "thing" here, so a well-decorated house (although humble by American standards) can come off as "rich". Recently, I found myself actually trying to hang pictures in a hodge-podge manner so it would look more "Mexican" and not so "decorated". I had to fix them an hour later.

The other day a friend came by, and said, "You live here? An American? I mean, I thought it would be a mansion or something--like in the US." I jokingly said, "What? You don't think my house is pretty?" Giving a cursory glance around her, she said, "To be honest, noooo." And I felt my chest swelling with happiness.

Why? Because I know that means I am now more accessible to her. There is always an automatic assumption here: American = rich. And, I think that is what keeps many people from coming to my house or wanting me over to theirs. They think they will be embarrassed by my wealth.

And, that's what it is all about. Presenting an accessible "me" to people here. It isn't a "different" me, but it is me in a way that doesn't intimidate people or unconsciously send them a message of superiority.

Hence. I find myself on this invisible fence... between trying to dress and present myself in a non-pretentious way to my neighbors here--and trying not to feel horribly frumpy and behind the times when I get back to the US. So, if you spot me somewhere, looking a little wild-eyed and bewildered... just chalk it up to the craziness that happens to us that have a feet planted in two very separate worlds.

Friday, July 2, 2010


Today, a friend and I visited another friend (Beatriz) who has been told she is in the last stages of cancer. Beatriz is a hard-working woman who has been sick for many months, but has defiantly kept going out with Rey to evangelize in the communities and continued hosting a Feeding Center in her home on Saturday mornings, as well as keeping up with household duties.

We found her curled in the fetal position, in a coat and under thick blankets--although the house was comfortably warm. She'd been at the hospital all morning doing tests, and was resting before going back in the afternoon for results and more tests.

She talked about the stages of emotions she has been through--disbelief, utter despair, anger... and now... she feels at peace with God. Hopeful that He will heal her, and ready to submit to whatever happens.

As we visited and prayed with her, I thought of how fragile indeed is this life. How we truly have no control over it. How everything seems to come into stark focus when we are grasping at that thin thread that is life.

Since I am somewhat of a hopeless, sappy romantic, I have a playlist entitled "Romantic Songs". Yes, I do. I was listening to it, and this song came on... and unbidden tears pricked my eyes.

I am thankful to live in a home where "I love you's" float around in the air like the flies in my kithen... It was the idea of the unknown, the "what if" that caught my emotion tonight.

Let's live today well, shall we?

For Friday.... and For Old Time's Sake

So, I never memorized poems as a child, but there was one poem that my sis and I spotted on the back of a Country magazine that we read, oh I dunno--maybe 10 times to each other? We hooted and hollered at it's pithy words. You know it's gotta be a good poem if just this morning--more than 10 years later--a line of it was dancing through my head. I'll give you a hint: The line starts with "For needs must scrape...."

Please.... read it outloud as you enjoy your 2nd cup of coffee. Happy Friday.

By:James Whitcomb Riley

We had our posey garden
That the women loved so well.
I loved it to but better still
I loved the stronger smell

That filled the evening breezes
So full of homely cheer
And told the night o-taken tramp
That human life was near.
On lazy August afternoons:
It made a little bower
Delightful where my grandsire sat
And whiled away an hour.
For there the summer morning
Its very cares entwined.
And berry bushes reddened
In the teeming soil behind.

All day fat spiders spun their webs
To catch the buzzing flies
That flitted to and from the house
Where Ma was baking pies.
And once a swarm of hornets bold
Had built a palace there
And stung my unsuspecting aunt--
I must not tell you where

Then father took a flaming pole
That was a happy day--
He nearly burned the building up
But the hornets left to stay.

And when summer bloom began to fade
And winter to carouse
We banked the little building
With a heap of hemling boughs.

But when the crust was on the snow
And the sullen skies were grey,
In sooth the building was no place
Where one would wish to stay.

We did our duties promptly,
There one purpose swayed the mind.
We tarried not nor lingered long
On what we left behind.
The torture of that icy seat
Would made a Spartan sob,
For needs must scrape the gooseflesh
With a lacerating cob.

That from a frost-encrusted nail
Was suspended by a string--
My father was a frugal man
And wasted not a thing.

When grandfather had to "go out back"
And make his morning call,
We'd bundle up the dear old man
With a muffler and a shawl.

I knew the hole on which he sat
'Twas padded all around,
And once I dared to sit there,
'Twas all too round, I found.

My loins were all too little
And I jack-knifed there to stay;
They had to come and get me out
Or I'd have passed away.

Then father said ambition
Was a thing small boys should shun,
And I must use the children's hole
Till childhood days were done.

But I still marvel at the craft
That cut those holes so true;
The baby hole and the slender hole
That fitted Sister Sue.

That dear old country landmark!
I've tramped around a lot
And in the lap of luxury
My lot has been to sit,

But ere I die I'll eat the fruit
Of trees I robbed of yore,
Then seek the shanty where my name
Is carved upon the door.

I ween the old familiar smell
Will soothe my jaded soul;
I'm now a man, but none the less
I'll try the children's hole.