Thursday, September 30, 2010

Taking the challenge...

Never done one of these meme things before, but a friend tagged me on it so here goes...

1. What is your favorite hot beverage? Coffee? Tea? Hot chocolate? Something else?
Definitely tea. and right now my favorite tea is Good Earth's Original. YUM, spicy and sweet, and so healthy. I can't get enough of it. But I also love all these Celestial Seasonings. And I love floral aroma black teas. There are tons of those here in Japan.

2. What is your favorite season of the year? It is hard to pick one, but either Spring or Fall. I love the comfortable weather in both seasons. I love the fall colors in Japan, especially the Japanese maple trees. But it is hard to beat the Spring flowers here, and especially Cherry Blossom season!

3. How old were you when you accepted Christ?
7 years old!

4. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?
If I had to choose one place it would probably be India right now. But I would love to travel ANYWHERE!

5. Are you a morning person or a night owl?
Usually a night owl. Occasionally I have a morning person spell, but it never lasts very long.

6. Do you have a life verse, or one that is really special to you?
Jeremiah 29:11 and Isaiah 41:10

7. If you had a couple hours to do anything you wanted, what would you do?
Sew or read. I never get to do those things much anymore. I miss it!

8. Do you have someone in your life who has been a Spiritual mentor for you?
Too many people to mention. But my amazing husband has been the biggest influence on me for sure!

I don't know how to tag people on a blog. so I'll just post this for now and if I figure that out I'll do that later!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Following the rules...

I said something so profound to Hana yesterday I MUST record it in my blog. Because you see, in my bi-lingual, third-cultural world my English just ain't so good anymore, and I rarely say anything profound. and don't any of you who know me comment on how profound I might have been before my brain started tangling up two languages, two kiddos and a whole slew of others life things that require brain cells and their working capacity, or lack there-of...

Anyways, back to my profound statement. It has to do with parenting and I thought what I said made SO much sense, yet it was so simple. Let me start from the beginning...

When Hana came to us, I was determined to use a pacifier if she wanted something to sooth her, because I didn't want to deal with all the issues that come with thumb sucking. And then at 3 months of age I caught her sucking on her thumb in her crib and it was so darn cute, I forgot to take it out and tie it behind her back for the next 6 months so she'd never do it again. And wallah! We had ourselves a thumb sucker. I told myself it was easier than getting up three times (or maybe 300 times) in the night to put the plug back in. And many many mothers told me success stories of how their children quite at 2, 3 or 4 years of age. So I decided not to worry about it.

Then we got past the age of 4 and 5 rolled in and she seemed to be sucking it more rather than less. And her bite, well lets just say braces will probably be in her future. There is no way on God's green earth that her front teeth will ever meet, there is a huge gap there and I can't imagine it will correct itself...

exhibit A

There is no exhibit B, I just always wanted to say that -- "Exhibit A" (I momentarily at some point in my life thought about being a lawyer, for 3 or 4 seconds).

Anyhooo, this brings me to our current delimma. She is a month away from her 6th birthday and still sucking her thumb. So I am currently trying to figure out how to come up with some sort of contraption to keep it out of her mouth at night, and also trying to teach her self control during the day. She often sucks her thumb while she is watching TV. So the rule is, if she does that the TV goes off for the rest of the day and she can not have any movies or computer time or iPod or anything.

Yesterday morning, I caught her AGAIN sitting and watching Anne of Green Gables, sucking her thumb. So the TV went off again (for the fourth day in a row, or maybe even more). And as she was vehemently promising not to do it anymore and begging to have the TV turned back on I said...

"You know the rule, and Mommy has to follow the rules too, or you NEVER will!"

And then as I went about the rest of my morning those words kept going through my head and I kept realizing the deep truth behind them.

I think one of the major issues with parenting today, is this very thing. It isn't only that the children won't follow the rules, it is that the parents don't either. And I don't mean just that you set an example for your kids if you break rules, and they see that and will copy your behavior, which is true. I mean that, when you set a rule, YOU as the parent must follow it.

If I set up a rule for behavior and do not enforce it, then I am essentially not even giving my child a chance to follow the rules! The rule is two part, she sucks her thumb, I turn off the TV. I have an obligation in this rule as well. This just reinforces one of my biggest beliefs about parenting, raising children is as much about the discipline and training of the parents as it is the child, if not more!

How many times have I seen parents tell their children no about a toy or something they want in a public place only to allow it when the child whines and cries or throws a big horrible crying fit?

This should be the second rule of parentings...

*In the voice of the Genie from Alladin*
Rule #2, YOU as the parent, follow the rules!

And I am preaching to myself here, by the way because I am in no way perfect when it comes to this.

Okay, my profoundness has been recording for posterior, ahhmmmmm posterity! You may continue with your lives!!!

Friday, June 25, 2010

FLY lady...

Have you ever heard of FLY Lady? About 6 years ago, before Hana was born, I discovered "her" through some friends on a forum I was really involved with. I was inspired to be a better housekeeper. It did wonders for my habits in keeping our house clean. I developed a really good routine and was keeping a fairly organized spotless house, when our first little blessing arrived. All that baby stuff poured into our tiny little apartment, and I was totally consumed with soaking up every single minute with my precious newborn, adoptive breast feeding, cloth diapering, the works! So FLY lady went out the window (no pun intended).

But many of the habits I learned from her remained. My sink usually stays pretty clean (her first and key recommendation for staying motivated to keep a clean house), I still almost always get dressed in the morning (but not down to my shoes like she strongly suggests cause, well, I live in Japan and we don't wear shoes in the house here, besides I would hit my head on half our door frames if I added even half and inch to my height inside our house). I still have pretty regular days for a "house blessing" and de-clutter according to her suggestions. But I dropped the morning routines, and the night routines, the zone cleaning schedule through the month, and so forth.

Fast forward 6 years, one move later and one more baby. Just about 1.5 years ago when I was beginning to work up the energy to start a major deep cleaning on this house, planned to begin just after a guest left, we got blessing #2. And again, I was determined to soak up every amazing moment with my newborn cause this might be the last one! So FLY lady never landed that time around.

Finally, now I have the motivation and drive to get with it again. In the last week or so, I have cleaned out many closets. Some had boxes in them that haven't even been opened since we moved in here. I've rearranged, and organized, and cleaned. I've thrown away a lot of gomi (trash), maybe about 10 large bags. Mostly filled with clothes from when I was 13 kilo heavier. I feel like I'm finally making some progress, and pretty soon this house is gonna look GOOD! I'm almost there and it feels great.

The scary thing is, the last two times I nested like this (or almost nested the second time) babies came along! :/ We are not on the list for a third one and there is only one other way then that a baby would be possible...........



Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Random stuff....

Had a doozie of a headache yesterday. (wow, doozie or is it spelled doozy, either way my spell check doesn't approve, at any rate, that's a fun word I haven't used in a while! doozie!!!) So back to my headache. I think back in High School I had one like this a time or two, but oh my goodness it was horrible. I threw up 3 times from the pain and nausea. Slept from 8pm to 6am and it was gone. What was THAT all about? I have no idea, but it makes me want to do a detox or cleanse of some sort really bad for some reason. Anyhow...

Got back in the gym today. Somehow after getting back home from America having only gained 1 kilo, then losing that 1 kilo in the first few days, I now seem to have gained back 2 kilo. How does THAT happen!? Bunches of yummy Japanese food that I missed a LOT is how that happens. At any rate, I'm about to get rid of it. Oh how I LOVE to workout. I just LOVE it!

My 10pm-ish bedtime and getting up at 6am continues. Loving that too. So I am off to bed!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Life is so fun...

Gosh, sometimes I just marvel at the life the Lord has given me. I am soooooooo blessed! And having so much fun doing what we do, being married to the man I am married to and raising these beautiful, fun children! I could not have imagined my life like this and it could not be more wonderful. My dreams were so, so, um, boring compared to what God had in store for me. And when I think about what is to come, I can't wait to see what happens!

Just coming back from our trip to the states I stand in awe of the many many blessings. So amazed at the wonderful people who love and support us. So thankful for our friends and FAMILY! We had so many wonderful, meaningful times with both. I am overwhelmed with joy and pride in these people I am so blessed to know.

The trip to America was really refreshing to me spiritually. I had several times of sweet worship and just felt the whole time that God was filling me up with spiritual rest. It is amazing how going around and sharing what God is doing in Japan and that being the only ministry responsibility we had for 7 weeks was so restful and so fulfilling. It is so important to take time to reflect on what God is doing, on his amazing power, on the miracles that He has been knitting together over time. To put them into words and share those stories with people, oh it thrilled my spirit and renewed my strength for more ministry!

I love love love what we do. I love my life! Thank you Jesus!

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Going "home"...

In just a little over 5 days we will board a plane and head to my "home" in the States. It has been two years since we were back. I believe that is the longest I've ever gone without returning home for a visit. It's crazy how much I miss it, and yet I know I will miss Japan so much while we are gone too.

I am determined this week to do many things before we leave...

Eat many of my favorite foods. Mom is making me Koroke (friend potato thingys, I know no other way to describe them) on Tuesday night. I plan to eat at a bakery at least once if not twice or more this week before we leave. Oh how I LOVE Japanese bakeries. WHY o why don't we have breads like that in the states, or at least in Texas. Those are just a few of the things I plan to consume before we head out.

I will take an ofuro (bath) as many times as possible before we leave. Oh how I will miss the deep warm water kept at just the perfect temperature with recirculated, reheating throughout your bath time. I will miss the really clean feeling of washing off OUTSIDE the tub and then soaking in the warm water, clean water. I will miss it!

I will buy some Japanese food to take with us. I have never taken food back to the states, but I am so afraid our son will starve to death in the states. I have tried making American meals often lately to get our kiddos used to it and he will NOT eat anything American. we also were recently near an American military base and ministering at an American church and he starved the whole time we were there because he wouldn't eat most of what we were served. He survived on any white rice I could get my hands on and his formula milk.

and I hope to enjoy lots of time with friends this week because we are really really going to miss everyone while we are gone.

Things I will do in America...

Buy clothes, buy shoes and buy make-up! All things I can't really do here in Japan. The sizes and colors and styles just don't match "me"!

Eat lots of steak and Mexican food!

Spend lots of time with friends and family!

Drink a Dr. Pepper (or two).

It is odd feeling so torn between two countries. I know we will have a blast in America.

Hana summed up my feelings with something she said in the car earlier today. We were leaving church and Hana said, "Mommy, I will miss Mia when we go to America. But, NO, really I miss Bam and Gagas(her grandparents in America)!" It was as if she was correcting herself realizing, she will miss her best friend for just a few weeks, but she misses her grandparents ALL THE TIME.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Weight of the World...

Do you ever have one of those days. One of those days when it just feels like the weight of the world is on your shoulders. Ever have one of those weeks? Well, I'm having one, or had one (I HOPE). And yesterday was the worst of it (I HOPE).

I don't know where it came from. Nothing in particular triggered it. I don't think there has been anything especially taxing these days. As a matter of fact things are going pretty smoothly and nothing is really that hectic right now. The only thing I can figure out is the emotional tension of Kai's adoption was relieved when it was finalized, and maybe that release of tension brought forth some bottled up emotions? I have no idea what's happening. But I just can't get my bearings straight.

Most of the time I cope really well with all the stresses in my life. Sometimes I cope so well I forget that most of those stresses are there. But every once in a while, something throws my coping skills off kilter, and I just can't cope at ALL anymore. Early in our marriage this happened more often. I labeled it culture shock, and shut myself up in the house for some major Self-pampering. But I can't do that anymore with children and our now much more advanced ministry obligations.

Yesterday, it all became overwhelmingly clear to me that there is no real place of rest for me (in the physical sense). In Japan I am always a little bit outside my comfort zone. No matter how well I speak the language, no matter how much I've adapted to the food and the lifestyle, no matter how much I really love this country, it is still not my original culture and with that comes the need for extra energy to do even the simplest task. A trip to the grocery store is not always simple, especially when I need to purchase something new, or the packaging on what I normally buy looks different now and I have to figure out if I am getting the same thing but I can't totally read the label, etc. And because houses are smaller here and kitchen storage is limited, I go to the grocery store almost daily, not once a week. That's just ONE example of how even simple daily tasks come with extra challenges for me here. Most of the time, those little stresses don't bother me at all, or I don't feel that they do. but I think it builds up over time without me realizing it. Sometimes, I reach my breaking point.

There is no real place of rest for me in relationships either. Outside of Rocky, spending time with a friend means I most likely have to do it in my second language. I also must try to carry on a conversation in my second language, while myself and probably the other party as well, are trying to keep tabs on 3 or 4 or more busy little children, etc. This stage of motherhood means there is very little "relaxation" with friends and in relationships, plus the added challenge of language and cultural differences.

I could go on and on. And so, one might think, well just visit America and you can rest. But it doesn't work that way. Our trips to America are always hectic, we live out of suitcases, we are on the move constantly, we are always surrounded by people, always a guest in someone's home, always the special guests. Mix in jet lag, reverse culture shock, reversal of our marital roles (because I plan and lead everything while we are stateside, I know where we are going, I know the people we are going to be with, etc. and Rocky has to just tag along) and complete upset in any family routine we might have at home and it's just crazy. Nope, no rest there.

This has been my life for 10 years now and usually I cope quite well with it. But this week I am overwhelmed. and that's not even touching on the things that occupy my thoughts concerning ministry, child raising, homeschooling, English teaching, Bible studies, songs, our future, etc. etc. etc.

I KNOW the only place rest is found is in the arms of Jesus. I know that with all of me. I spent my workout tonight listening to podcasts and one of them was a GREAT message about worship. I needed to hear it.

Don't know where I am going with all this. Don't know when this "fog" I seem to be in is gonna lift and the bright clear view I usually have will return. I think winter and cold dreary days has something to do with it all too.

Anyways, I'm just trying to lean more on Jesus tonight and let him take all this weight I am feeling off me spirit and bring me rest. Yea, working on THAT!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Learning to parent...

You know this whole parenting thing is definitely an "on the job training" situation. There are so many many things that I learn about children, about myself, about love, about God and about trying to apply HIS character to my parenting style each day. or each hour even!

I am currently reading a book called Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp. Every other evening when I am not at the gym, I crawl into a hot bath and read one full chapter while I soak. It has been one of the first parenting books to teach me so much in a long time. I LOVE it.

A few nights ago he pointed out something that I just can't stop thinking about, more thoroughly than I ever have before. It was a chapter on unbiblical parenting methods. He shed some new light on methods that I had just accepted as a "good idea" in the past. He challenged me as a parent to examine each method, as to whether it is Biblical or not. If my goals in raising my children are Biblical, then the method should be also. "...we must identify and reject the non-biblical approaches that vie for our attention. Biblical goals require a biblical approach--only godly methodology will bring glory to God." My deepest desire is that my parenting and furthermore, my children will bring Glory to God! This really got my attention.

Methods he said we should be careful of...

I Didn't Turn Out So Bad - not thinking through any method, simply using our parents method without thought because "I didn't turn out so bad"

Pop Psychology/Behavioral modification - psychologically motivating children, for example contracts or bribes (monetary or material rewards for exhibiting the desired behavior) *one I am guilty of using*

Emotionalism - using fear, guilt trips, separation (including time outs *guilty), humiliation

and some others.

As noted, I was convicted of my use of behavioral modifications and emotionalism. If you are like me, your defenses might be raring up right about now if you also use any of these methods. But reading the following is what drove it home for me...

In regards to Pop Psychology/Behavioral modification...
"These approaches are superficial. The point of appeal in bribery and contracts is crass self-interest. Bribery latches on to evil in the child's heart and uses it as a motivation. The child is not taught to look out for the interests of others. The child learns nothing about being under authority because God is God and the parent is his agent. The child does not learn biblical reasons for integrity, responsibility..."

"These methods will not be satisfying to a parent who understands that the heart determines behavior. Such methods do not deal biblically with the heart. They are only concerned with instances of behavior. Unfortunately, the heart is being trained, but it is not trained in biblical motives or goals."

"Since the heart and behavior are so closely linked, whatever modifies behavior inevitably trains the heart. The heart is trained to greedy self-interest and obtaining rewards. The point of appeal is to Junior's greed... your methods inevitably instruct the heart - the heart determines behavior."

and in regards to the emotionalism...
"This approach is not only cruel, but ineffective in addressing the heart biblically. [The child] is not learning to understand her behavior biblically. She is not learning to discern the specific issues of the heart that her behavior reflects. What she is learning is to avoid the emotional privation of being in the chair. Her heart is being trained, but not to know and love God. She is being trained to respond to the crippling fear of emotional privation."

and then here was my "duhhhh" moment...

"Biblical discipline addresses behavior through addressing the heart. Remember, the heart determines behavior. If you address the heart biblically, the behavior will be impacted."

yea, *nodding my head furiously in agreement* what he said!

"Changing the behavior without changing the heart trains the heart towards whatever you use as your means."

I don't even know how to further expound on that.

All I know, is in areas where I have applied the unbiblical methods talked about here, we never see any progress. One particular issue I can think of right now... picking up toys. Picking up toys has been our battle. The one area that I have the most trouble getting Hana to obey. I have tried taking away toys. I have tried setting timers and punishing if the task wasn't finished. I have tried giving away her toys. I have tried yelling and nagging. But then recently I tried a new method.

After dinner when I was cleaning up the kitchen, I ask Hana to pick up her toys. I talked about how our whole family ate this food and made the mess in the kitchen so I am cleaning it up and could she also help clean up the living room, etc. And I agreed that since Kai helped make the mess but can't help pick it up, that Mommy will help her when I am done with the kitchen. The profound result of this method were a child who is now happily cleaning up her toys when asked to, and even NOT requiring that I help take care of Kai's part!

I addressed the heart issue, laziness and a sense of unfairness. She didn't see why she had to go to the trouble to clean up her toys when she'd rather not, and she also didn't want to have to do Kai's part. But I demonstrated the behavior of taking care of our home to keep it clean and nice for all of us, and she followed the example and seems to know understand and joyfully do the task when asked. Who would have thought it would be so simple.

This book is challenging me to think more about my methods. As in anything, habits are hard to break and I'm sure I will continue to result to some method before I think about it. But I hope and pray that this little bit of wisdom can help improve the way I parent. I feel so sorry for the oldest child now, they really are the guinea pig. Kai will not have to go through some of the confusion Hana has had to endure as Mommy tries and fails in areas along the way! Ultimately though, she is in the Lord's hands and I know he will protect her heart and mind and help in remodling her in areas where I have already gone wrong (and surely will also go wrong in the future).