Apr 28, 2010

Satisfied.

It's the simple things in life
that really are the BEST.  
I love how my children
remind me that 
I can and should find
JOY in the little things  
like swimming in a bucket 
and pouring water onto
rocks to make them shiny.  
They don't really
need fancy toys, high tech gadgets 
or anything that costs
a lot of money.
They are  


SATISFIED
and


CONTENT



and



FULL.

Lord, help me to be more childlike 
and less distracted 
by the bells and whistles
of this world.


Apr 26, 2010

Generous Smenerous

 So I walked out of the grocery store and hopped into my car and turned on the a/c (rolled the window down).  Her clothes caught my eye in the side mirror and her well worn face said (in Spanish) "Give me something, please.  I'm hungry.  Give me something."

She is a familiar beggar, sometimes nice sometimes forceful.  She scours the streets for food, goes through trash and she walks all over town.  She is everywhere with her hand extended.  I glanced sideways at my bags of groceries on the passenger seat beside me, contemplating whether or not to turn her way or give her something.

Some say don't give because it just enables the cycle of begging to continue.  I'm a real sucker, but I have learned to trust the holy spirit and let him lead me on whether or not to give food or money.  I trust the holy spirit to prompt me when presented with this situation, and in that I way I don't worry about a personal policy on what to do when confronted with this frequent part of life here.  However, at this particular moment, I struggled with the recent questions playing through the billboard of my mind, "How can I be more generous and give my best generously?"  I nervously glanced at her, her tattered clothes, her flip flops worn smooth from the uneven streets they had treaded on.  "I'm HUNGRY," she said again.  My hands rifled blindly through my bags, and I handed her a banana to appease her.  She grabbed it and walked off.

You know bananas grow on trees here, right?  Awww man, the whole way home I thought, "Wow, Rachel, that was REALLY GENEROUS."  I could have at least given her the whole bunch, rather than just one.  I feel as though I am struggling with holding too tightly to the Lord's blessings in my life.  I WANT  to give my BEST and give it GENEROUSLY, and I also want to lose weight while consuming too many calories and not exercising enough.  Houston, we have a problem.  As my dad would say, "Chips are a flyin', but no trees are a fallin!"  Translation:  well your mouth works, but your actions don't line up.  True. True.  Heaven, help me.  For real.

Apr 25, 2010

RICH

What can I do to be more generous?



Do I give my best generously?






We are going through the Rob Bell Nooma Series in church.  If you have not ever seen these, I highly recommend giving them a whirl, especially if you are a visual, creative person.  They are great at weaving God's truth in with a visual story and thus prompting much thought.  The title of the video today was "Rich," and in a nutshell, it hits on a concept that  didn't  become real to me until we moved to the Dominican Republic.  The concept is this:  we are rich.  That's right - crazy loaded.

Wait one stinking minute here.  We are missionaries for pete's sakes!   Jon and I are completely reliant on the generosity of others to provide a way for us here.  Hold the phone.  Thing check:  car? check! passports? check! bank account?  check?  house? check!  running water in house? check! bathroom? check! breathing? check! health? check!  I don't for a minute think that the point of the video was that if you have stuff, you are rich.  The point was that in the American culture that we focus on what else we need - the newest and greatest toy, tool,  i -whatever, etc.  We cast a blind eye to what we do have and become fixated on what we need next, thinking that the standard of living that we are conditioned to is the same for the rest of the world.

When we first moved to the D.R., we would have people stop at our gate to ask for food and money.  Jon and I were baffled at first, thinking, "Don't they know that we are missionaries and that we don't have much?"  Oh contrar mofrair.  Even at the low end of the American economic food chain, we were and are LOADED.  So are you.  Anyways, the point was not possessions/amenities = wealth, but that we all have something glorious to offer other human beings.  Furthermore, regardless of how much or how little we have, we should ALWAYS have enough to give.  If I think that I don't have anything to give, than I am probably holding on too tightly to what I've been blessed with.  In many ways, I need to let go - not just loosen my grip - but completely surrender.  My brain says "YIKES!" but my soul screams "FREEDOM!"

I was completely convicted too about the part about giving our best.  Sure, we give - but in terms of quality, we aren't necessarily always giving our best.  Do you want our broken fan?  Maybe it can be fixed?  Here's a pair of mismatched shoes, but their the same size, right?  Ouch.  The God of the universe  offered His very best, Jesus. Wow.  I'm trying to let this one marinate way down deep and let it season how I think and live.

Apr 24, 2010

Bad ideas

We see LOTS of interesting stuff here in the Dominican, and somehow it becomes part of our "normal."
  


low rise jeans + motoconcho 
Cleavage of all kinds is commonplace here.  It presents itself in ways that make it difficult to turn away from, especially when it is on the road in front of you.  How could I not document this?


Driving uphill on a curvy road with 1 hand and 1 foot while holding a beer (which can't be clearly seen from this angle).


Wowzers.  It's gonna take a long time to get the sand out of that mop! 



Traveling on a Sunday afternoon during election season.  What you can't get from this picture is the horn honking, loud music, and women hanging out of car windows dancing from the waist up.


NOT genuinely appreciating having a roof overhead, running water, a comfy bed to sleep in, a refrigerator, a toilet, etc.  Many people don't have such things.  If I didn't have what I have, would I still be JOYFUL?  "I sure hope so!" she says from a plentiful abode.

Apr 23, 2010

A Favorite Gift


 My dad is a man of few words.  What he does say I hold dear.  


For my 37th birthday, he sent me this note (which I framed and hung in my room).  

It makes me smile because 1) he went out and found an actual wood chip for the chip 2) it reminds me that he is proud of me and that he sees some of him in me.  

The best gifts have nothing to do with their cost or usefulness, but how they strike a chord in our souls.  This one did for me.  Thanks, dad.  

Apr 22, 2010

Blog-A-Thon

How do they do it?  These women whose blogs I read that provide so much inspiration, humor, encouragement and entertainment daily.  Do they sleep?  SERIOUSLY?  I can only seem to make a blog happen at best once every two weeks.  What's wrong with me?  Ha Ha.  Family members please remain silent :)

I'm thinking that the secret is to build it into my daily routine somehow.  Sleep.  Pray. Exercise (okay, haphazardly and on occasion).  Put on make-up (If I don't have it on I am very, very ill). Play with kids.  Cook. Clean. Converse with husband.  Blog.  Sleep.

So, for the next month, I am going to make an effort to build blogging into my daily routine.  I'm going to have my very own BLOG-A-THON.   At the very least, my mothers (Sarge and the Queen Mother) will be satisfied, right?  And I do want to keep them happy. For Real.  (This is one way to ensure that I get at least 2 comments).

Apr 9, 2010

"Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened." ~ Dr. Seuss

My sister, Dawn, and my brother-n-law, Richard, left yesterday morning after a very good time was had by all here in the Dominican.  It always flies by so fast when people visit, but I'm clinging to my favorite Dr. Seuss quote that I appropriately made the title for this post.  Dawn and Richard said that they wanted to "roll in the donkey dung of the Dominican Republic," and so we set out to show them as much as we could in a short amount of time.




We took them to the end of the island where the road literally ends at the ocean, drug them to some fabulous beaches: Playa Rincon, Playa Fronton, Playita in Las Galeras.



Playita:  a little patch of paradise!



Playa Fronton:  well worth the terrifying boat road, right?


Dawn and Richard getting their "relax" on at Playa Rincon.

We put Richard on a little fishing boat with a dominican guide that didn't speak any english and with some fierce waves that made even a seasoned captain a little woozy.  This is actually the first boat, which wouldn't start after about 20 minutes of multiple Dominicans attempts, making captain Ricardo a little itchy to get off of the boat, which he eventually did . . . . only to get on a boat significantly smaller than the one pictured, "no bigger than my bath tub" said Richard.  The bathtub boat took Ricardo way off one of the points of the bay, where he got to see the bow of the bathtub boat vertical above his head.  How's that for "donkey dung?"  Good times.


We had dinner at the beautiful El Cabito restaurant, which is situated on the edge of a cliff that drops off about 50 feet to the crashing ocean below.  We enjoyed the sunset, a whale sighting way off in the distance, and some very good food.



It is something like 15 meters to the crashing see below.


I think Jon would have taken the kids to the very edge where people jump if I had not emphatically stopped him.


The beginning of a beautiful sunset.








We drove the highway 5 along the north coast and showed them Laguna Dudu, a beautiful blue lagoon, Playa Grande, Playa Precioso, and managed to squeeze sninner (snack/dinner) in at Cabarete.






Playa Precioso


We took them to lunch at JCS where one of their adoring nieces showed them her classroom, introduced her friends, etc.

And this is  how she looked when I told her it was time for us to leave . . .


But kids are very resilient . . . .


They loved on us and we loved on them.  It was glorious! 




Oh, and there was a fight that Richard picked with a couple of coconuts.  The first coconut won, when opened producing a nasty, sour, coconut jelly, but the second coconut was conquered.


There are many more memories and photos to be shared.  Dawn has many good ones as well so this is not the last of the tales.