Sunday, September 17, 2017

In the Wilderness- Middle School

So for the second time in the educational journey of my children,  I had to send one of them to a school that I had bad feelings about.  The first time was 4 years ago when we still lived in NYC.  We had J. at an absolutely phenomenal school that we adored.  I had hopes I would be starting a job there as I was planning to go back to work full time and had a great relationship with his principal.  But my plans were not the ones God had for us.  I found out I was pregnant with I. right as I was filling out my paperwork to return to teaching.  Because the school wasn't zoned for our apartment, and I wouldn't be working there, the school asked us to to fudge our address so we could register M. (we never had to do that for J. because there was space for kids who were out of zone when he enrolled). R. and I agreed that we would get no where by being dishonest.  God would have to open a door for M. to attend without lying about our address.  Well, He didn't.  So it goes sometimes.  So I registered both boys for the school we were zoned for.  It was highly rated, but I didn't like it.  We sent them.  They did fine, but I honestly never liked it and we moved anyway at the end of that school year.

Fast forward to this year.  Recalling that I believed in January we wouldn't be here by the start of this school year because God was going to open a door for R. to find a new job, I didn't expect to be dealing with what to do about sending J. on to middle school here.  We're still here, and it's September so things obviously didn't go according to my plan.

I  had an overwhelming fear about sending J. to the middle school here.  There were a few reasons why.  Number one, I went to an extremely small private school in the area that costs gobs of money but was very safe, challenging, and nurturing.  Number two, our middle is huge.  I think there are 2400 students all together.  Number three, I have heard and read horror stories about our middle school.  Fights, bullying, 35 kids in a class, more fights, kids sitting on the floor of the school bus because there weren't enough seats for everyone.  I could not send my baby into that place.

So I was discouraged we weren't moving, but I solved that by deciding to homeschool him.  We started over the summer to make sure it would work well.  First of all I am 100% not a homeschool mom.  I'm just not.  I'm a teacher, but I believe in actual schools.  Nothing against homeschooling.  I'm just philosophically aligned with my kids going to school.  So there was that, but we tried anyway.  Guess what?  We were both miserable.  I couldn't help that kid with hardly any of his math questions.  I didn't really fair so well at math when I was in school.  And then I have 4 other kids, two of whom are really little so I had about zero minutes to really sit down with him and help him.

I prayed hard about it and determined that this homeschooling thing was only meant to be temporary until we moved, but God had not opened that door yet so it was unwise to plan around Him doing something He hadn't done or promised to do.  I felt like I needed to let go and send him to middle school.  Where was R. in all of this?  He always thought he should go, but being that I'm the educator of the two of us, he let me decide.  He also has a habit of letting me figure out God's plan the round about way.  It usually works best for both of us.

So the decision was made, but I was still worried it was going to be awful.  I went to "locker day" with J. where they figure out where all their classes are and there were maybe 8 gazillion kids there.  I was totally overwhelmed.  Umm J. was fine though so I should have taken that as a hint that it would be fine, but I didn't.

The first day of school comes and I'm beside myself.  I prayed all day that he would be fine, and find all his classes, and not get beaten up, and have people to sit with at lunch, and make it to the bus on time to come home.  Oh yeah and I also cried a little when he got on the school bus.  Sigh.  I wait for him with anticipation to come home and when he does he was so happy.  He loved it!  He thanked me for praying for him and said it worked because he had a great day!  Woo hoo!

We're a few weeks in now and he still loves it.  PTL!  He loves the independence, is acting so responsibly and maturely.  I'm so glad we went ahead with it.  We talked recently about the possibility that we might move mid year and he'll have to start over again.  I feel awful about that.  But I reminded him that he has had a few unique opportunities to be the new kid, starting over and God has always been faithful every time to help him make friends and find his place.  I told him if he has to do it again, it will be hard, but God will be with Him just like He always has.  And I also told him that someday once he's settled again in that new place there will be another new kid who knows no one and might not even know that God can and is with him/or her and J. can be a friend to that person because he'll remember walking in their shoes.  That encouraged him greatly.

Waiting, trusting, hanging on to God's promises, making tough choices through prayer, living every day for today.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

In the Wilderness- The Overview

I'm going to privately resurrect this blog because we are in the midst of a major season of waiting on God.  A place that has us firmly placed in what feels like wandering in the wilderness and I want to chronicle it because I firmly believe God is going to answer our prayers and bring us into a new season.  It feels so close I could taste it, yet so far away it's completely out of reach.  I want to be able to look back and remember how I was feeling and how God helped me deal with it.

Long story short R. is prayerfully looking for a new job.  We live 2 hours away from our church, where he works.  Even when we did live there, it's firmly planted in the middle of a downtown area where it's very challenging to find parking and gain access with ease.  Because of that and because now we obviously live so far away the kids and I can't be part of anything except Sunday services; we are praying about making a change so that we can all serve and worship together and be part of our church community the way we feel God intends us to be.

This has been a very difficult decision and one I have wanted us to make for years, but have waffled about it because I know how much R. loves our church.  It's been the only family he has really ever known.  It's been the only professional job he has ever held, and it has afforded him the opportunity to do many amazing things for the kingdom.  But since having our kids (5 in all now!) I have felt so unbelievably cut off from it all and that longing to belong has lingered with me for years.  I have held onto hope that someday God might open a door for us to move elsewhere.  Living with 5 kids in a city where a 3 bedroom apartment averages 4k a month is just NOT feasible.  Living 2 hours away from that city and still attending that church doesn't really feel that much more feasible for our spiritual health and well being.

So this past January, we decided together that we would prayerfully put ourselves out there, apply, and see if God would open up something for us.  At first there were two opportunities at churches where we knew people and they seemed to me like either one would be wonderful.  I'll be honest.  I was naive.  I thought R. would have this in the bag the minute he sent out a resume.  I think he's pretty amazing. I guess in a way he's my special snowflake husband.  No one is as fabulous as he is!  But yeah, God had other plans for me (and for us) and those plans have consisted of months and months of waiting, closed doors, like really slammed in our face doors, uncertainty, wondering if God would ever answer, doubt, lots of seeking and prayer, and finally determining that there was nothing I could do to change our situation and nothing that R. could do either.

It. has. been. hard.  I've wanted to will myself out of this wilderness place so many times.   Like just give up and say "Okay that's it.  There's just nothing better for us." So  many aspects of our situation make finding a new position seemingly impossible.  I won't bother with the details.  So here we are.  We are still waiting.  I am still choosing to trust God.  R. hasn't really ever wavered on that, but I certainly have.  And I'm just going to leave this here along with every other post I make until God ends this period of waiting on Him with an open door.  I trust He will.  I want to chronicle this journey.  I actually wish I had started back in January because He has taught me so much along this path I am on right now.  Anyway,  that's where we're at right now.  Stay tuned.

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Wedding Banquet

I had never had a Muslim friend before.  I knew little about the religion or the cultures that are predominantly Muslim.  But we lived in a neighborhood that has one of the largest Muslim populations in the US, so it was no surprise my oldest ended up going to school with children from Muslim families.  Actually the school had mostly students of Chinese decent and since I don’t speak Chinese, by default I ended up speaking to the only other mom on a class field trip that I attended who spoke English and she happened to be Muslim.  She dressed in a hijab and told me her family was from Yemen, but she grew up here and lived here her whole life.  Shortly after that I met her friend, a Moroccan whose husband was from Yemen.  Little by little we began spending time together with our kids outside of school and they were gracious enough to introduce me to their culture, their food, their customs, but also they were very much American which my white American self related to very much.

One day they invited me to the wedding celebration of a family member.  I had never been to a Yemeni wedding before (duh), but I was apprehensive.  I felt safe with my friends, but with hundreds of people I didn’t know and didn’t know me, I wasn’t sure.  Still I was honored and more than a little bit curious, so I went. 

When I walked in the banquet hall I was completely overwhelmed.  There must have been 300-400 women all covered in black.  I actually forget the name of the kind of dress, but there is a name for it.  They had their heads covered.  In Yemeni culture, men and women celebrate a wedding separately.  As for me, I stuck out like a sore thumb: blond haired, blue eyed, wearing a purple dress.  Everyone stared at me.  I mean can you blame them?  How many white chicks show up to a Yemeni wedding celebration?  No sooner had I begun to panic, that my friends found me, seated me, and made sure I had some food to eat.  I started to feel better.

Shortly thereafter the bride and groom arrived and began a procession in to have their first dance.  When they did all the women in the room pulled their veils over their faces (because there was a male in the room).  After they danced, the groom left to celebrate with the other males, and the bride remained to continue the part  Once the groom was out of sight, the women (literally all 300 of them) dropped off their black robes, to unveil the most beautiful, colorful gowns.  Their hair had been done to the nines.  They were so beautiful.  And then they danced.  And danced and danced.  They danced with so much joy.  And then they invited me to dance with them.  So I did.  It was one of the most joyful experiences of my life.  I don’t know why it surprised me that they just seemed so…?  Well they seemed just so much like me. 


There are a lot of misconceptions about people that are Muslim in this country.  I’m not looking to discuss the nuances of their holy book.  That’s not what I’m sharing here.  I’m sharing about what I saw, what I loved, what I experienced behind the veil of some incredible women that I call my friends.  Friends who hurt every single time there are people who kill other people in the name of their religion.  Friends who have been harassed, bullied, and spat on simply because they wear a hijab.  Believe me, if they didn’t wear one, you would never even know their background.  My one friend’s husband is currently in the process of becoming a police officer and his command of Arabic will be extremely beneficial to the department.  My other friend dreams of becoming a police officer one day herself.  In every group of people there are people that very poorly represent the whole.  I think it’s important not to forget everyone else. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

For Laughs Volume 3

I can't believe it's been 2 years since I did this.  Here are the majority of the silly things my kids have said that I have posted to Facebook in the last two years.  Enjoy!



10/25/12

This evening we were so engaged in a heated conversation with J that we failed to notice M was eating his entire dinner with a magnifying glass he received as a party favor! Silly boy!

10/26/12

“In honor of President Obama's suggestion that we should allow children to vote, I ask M who should be the next president. Confused at first as to what a president was he asked, "I have to choose one of my presents?" Upon clarifying that he must choose who will be in charge of our country he selected ME to be president. Unfortunately he keeps me too busy to consider the position!”

11/5/12

“Among other things, this evening J prayed that none of us would get cavities and that he would be good at bowling. : )”

11/28/12

“Proof of the power of advertising---
M: J. I got one dollar. What can I get with it?
J: The only thing you can get with a dollar is a McDonalds spicy chicken sandwich. That's it.”

2/14/13

“M. is on a little bit of a roll today. He's was really excited for Valentine's Day yesterday so this morning when he saw me he shouted "Good morning mommy! Is it tomorrow today?!" Right now he's scribbling pictures for his friends and I suggested he draw an actual picture. His response, "This is a picture! It's me going around and around on a race track!"

3/30/13

“My Dad asked J and M today where their Dad was born. They couldn't remember so he answered, "He was born in Trinidad." He then asked them where I was born and M matter of factly replied, "She was born in Trinimom"

6/7/13

“M describing the taste of Penicillin to J: Its nasty! It tastes like a chocolate alligator with flashlights in its mouth”


10/9/13
“M just shouted to me from the bathroom: Mom I have cavities! I replied: Well I hope you're about to brush your teeth! He then shouted back: No, no, not cavities, I meant diarrhea! I'm not really sure how those two things got mixed up?”

7/19/2014

“The boys went to swim lessons today. J missed yesterday so the instructor asked him where he was (M was there). M loudly announced: "He was on the toilet! He set a world record for the longest time ever on the toilet because he was sitting on it when we left and still when we came back!" Amazingly J was proud of this feat and just smiled and nodded his head while I was shaking mine.”

9/12/14

“The boys were reading a school library book at breakfast about cows and J says "What's this part where the milk is made?" and M says, "That's the gutters". LOL!”

9/20/14

“T's prayer tonight: I'll title it, "A little bit of randomness"- "Jesus, thank you for this day, and I peed my bed...for 7 days...no 7 weeks...now I gotta wear a diaper...Amen!"

11/3/14

“Epic length prayer this evening from M that included praying for every kind of teacher there was and will ever be (Art, gym, music, Math, and at least 10 more), keeping our home safe from Carvon bionoxide, for those that make and create flags, for help to stop stealing candy, and that he wouldn't get sick or pass along germs to anyone...There was more that I am forgetting now.”

11/9/14

“Today we dedicated Ian at church. While we stood up at the front our pastor addressed us. When he got to the part about how we raise our children and said, "If you speak harshly to them they will grow up only knowing harsh words." Behind me a little well-known voice pipes up, "Uh hmmm! Yup!" That kid is something else!”

11/9/14

“Endless material from Ms' 15 minute long prayer tonight: "...And God please protect me from emergencies, like fires, tornados, carbon monoxide, strangers, epi pen emergencies, and all emergencies. Please also help the people who forgot to put the blood on the door maybe remember to do that next time so you can pass over them too. Please help me not to pee the bed....Amen" There was at least 5 minutes of other prayer on either side of this snippet related to his future careers and helping Ian to be a good baby son. I have to hold my breath while he prays so I don't explode into laughter. : )”

11/19/14

“After the fire department visited Ms' school he prayed without ceasing for our home to be protected from Carbon Monoxide. He also took a clip board and tallied up the smoke detectors in our home (rightly determining that we didn't have enough). After a month of prayers and daily requests for us to properly outfit our home, Ricardo purchased and installed 8 dual smoke/Carbon Monoxide detectors. Miles was pleased, but his prayers have now shifted to asking that no one would come into our house and steal them off the walls. He's really fixed on this Carbon Monoxide thing.”

11/27/14


“J is laying it on: No one likes me! My life is an invisibility! (This is in reference to Miles, Tessa, and our neighbor not wanting to be hit by snowballs)”

Monday, November 24, 2014

Another one year old!

Exactly one year ago today our baby I. showed up two weeks ahead of schedule.  I celebrate so much about his arrival and this past year beyond the fact that he was and is a sweet, incredible, lovely baby.  The fact is, this little boy completely changed me as a mother and as a person in general.  My only regret is that it took me this long to see the light.

I had announced after the birth of T. that I thankfully would never be going through labor and delivery again.  I didn’t want to be pregnant with him.  I spent the first half of my pregnancy languishing the fact that I was pregnant, that I was that much further away from saying good-bye to the baby stage of our life.   I probably should say I’m ashamed of this fact, but I’ve purposed to live my life openly and unashamed, even the ugly parts.  God’s grace allows me to do that.   So yes, I lacked total perspective in the first half of my pregnancy.

And then at some point, my heart turned.  I accepted God’s plan and embraced it a little bit.  And then he was born.  And I just looked at him and loved him.  And in the weeks and months that followed, God began to show me how I had tried to rush through time, hurry my kids through their childhood, so it could get to the easier part, the part where I was getting sleep and not feeling stretched so thin.  I had blamed that on so many things.  But the truth is, it was just my attitude.  And this new little person reminded me of that. 

So this past year I slowed down and cherished each of I.’s little milestones.  I stopped waiting for him to sleep through the night, stopped wishing we were at the next step.  And I also did that for my older children.  Even in the crappy moments, I reminded myself that they would only be young for such a short time.  And I remembered every single day that only that moment was promised to me with them.  It was (is) a gift.   


My little I. shattered my plans for the future and he is a little reminder to me that my plans are completely insignificant compared to those that God has for me.  What a gift he is to all of us!  I pray whatever this next year has in store for him, and for all of my children, that I will continue to live in the moment, to love them deeply, to listen to them, to cherish each and every second because most likely I will blink and they will all be a year older.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

"The Shirt Off His Back"

Everyone knows that expression.  It’s used to describe really generous people.  Yesterday we were invited by some new friends to go swimming and hang out.  We’ve actually been overwhelmed by how friendly everyone is here in our new home.

 So we arrive at the pool play date.  The kids have a blast.  The grown ups hang out, and then it’s suggested that we go get ice cream.  Everyone is on board.  We begin to get ready to go.  J. comes up to me with a distressed look on his face.  Seeing as this happens regularly a few times a day, I am not highly alarmed.  He tells me he forgot to bring his shoes.  He’s upset because now he can’t go into the ice cream store with no shoes.  Really what kind of a mom doesn’t even notice that her kid got in the car, arrived at the house, swam etc… all without any shoes on his feet?  I must raise my hand, because apparently that mom was me yesterday.   The host of our get together notices our plight. J’s nearly in tears and I’m basically chastising him for coming without footwear.  She leaves and returns from her car with a pair of flip-flops.  “I found an extra pair in the trunk”, she tells me.  I’m so relieved.  On to the ice cream store we go.

So that was really generous of her and we’ve probably all done that once or twice; given up an extra pair of shorts or t-shirt or diaper to another mom in need.  But my story doesn’t end there, because when we arrive at the ice cream store and walk in both Ricardo and I notice that her son the same age as J. isn’t wearing any shoes!  She had literally given me her son’s only pair of shoes.  I was floored. 

 It was a gesture that only the most generous soul would do.  It’s what Jesus would do.  It really touched me to the core.  I hope I can be more generous like that.  It was an amazing lesson for J.  We noted to him later that his friend was walking around without shoes so that he wouldn’t be upset not to have them.   I think we all need to challenge ourselves to be more like that, to give not just the extra that we have, but to give sacrificially to others.   I know giving J. a pair of flip flops might not be quite on the same level as the poor woman in the bible who gave the last of her small amount of money, but it's the same concept. 


“ All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”  Luke 21:4 NIV