Monday, August 30, 2010

We Lost a Good One Today


Mr. Earl...we will miss you.

When I was born, my mom still had a year of college to go. Then she went to work after that. For around the first two years of my life, Mrs. Liz kept me (I was made aware a few years ago that 'kept me' is a regional term, but it just means she was my babysitter...although 'babysitter' in my mind is not a good term for what she was for me). I am from a very small community. Everyone knows everyone and more often than not, everyone is like family. Mrs. Liz was married to Mr. Earl. Mr. Earl was very good friends with Daddy. They were like family.

At some point while Mrs. Liz was keeping me, Mr. Earl got hurt and was basically bedridden for a good chunk of time. I don't remember any of it, but am told that I became his big buddy then...would just hang out with him all day long.

They went to the church I went to growing up and were part of our community and our families were close friends, so of course I saw them all the time even after Mrs. Liz stopped keeping me. I was her first son's flower girl in his wedding. I ended up babysitting her first grandchild some. Again, like family.

About 10 1/2 years ago, Mr. Earl had a huge stroke. He lost all ability to speak (in a way that one could understand him...he did always still speak...ha) and lost movement in his right side. He learned to walk again (with a cane) and to do basically all of the things he wanted to do. He would go hunting by himself in his mule (sort of like a 4-wheeler), ride through the woods to visit Daddy or Mama (again, in his mule)...and never laced for smiles and hugs all around, a joyful spirit, and conversation. Thank goodness his translator was always nearby.

Funny story: When I was single and living in Longview, I went over to see them when I was home one weekend. We were sitting out on their front porch in their rocking chairs just chatting. Mr. Earl motioned over to my Saturn and asked me something...his sentences usually went something like, 'Dada da da dadada?' :) I wasn't understanding what he was trying to ask me so I looked at Mrs. Liz. She immediately said, "Does it get good gas mileage?" She knew her husband. They were the perfect team.

I remember that when he had the stroke, I was so sad. He had always been such an active man. I knew he wouldn't want to live incapable of doing things that he would want to do. I was afraid he would get depressed, get bitter, get angry. I'd taken care of a few people like that. Understandable, but sad. But...not Mr. Earl. He lost his ability to communicate through words that could be understood...but that didn't stop him from still saying them and communicating in other way. He lost his ability to use his right arm. That didn't stop him from doing anything. He had the best partner ever...and three good sons with families that all pitched in to help him still achieve all those things that he wanted to.

Exactly a year after his stroke, he was there to watch Joel and me get married. I had often wondered through the years who would walk me down the aisle if something should ever happen to my dad (wasn't being morbid, but had several friends who didn't have their dads...just normal thoughts to think). Mr. Earl was always one I though about (along with an uncle who never had children). I wish I had it here with me, but I have a picture of me walking down the aisle with Daddy...and there is Mr. Earl right next to us. He and Mrs. Liz were sitting with my family and he was sitting at the end of the pew along the aisle where we walked in. It's a very sweet picture...he looked proud.

Back in May of this year he had some sort of stint placed. At the first part of July, his blood pressure starting acting up, so Mrs. Liz took him in. He never went home. One thing led to another and Mr. Earl went to be with Jesus this morning.

We are so very glad to have been able to spend some time with him just recently (above picture was taken just 2 days before he went into the hospital...1 day before we left Saline). Our kids just adored him. One said one time, "He talks like us." So cute. They felt a connection with him...but, then again, most did. He was just that type of fellow.

So, yes...we lost one of the best today. Please say a prayer for Mrs. Liz, their boys, and their families. Big adjustments ahead. Sad day, but a life to rejoice about.

These were taken February 2009, on our unexpected trip back to the states for a couple of months. Mr. Earl and Mrs. Liz came over to see us right before we were about to head back to Brazil. Eissa crawled right up in his lap like they were long lost friends. :)

So cute.
So glad our kids got to know him. He will definitely be missed.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Hello. My Name is Michawn and I Am a Rugmaker.

So, what are we up to here back in Brazil? What are we doing with our time?

We've been here in Campinas for about 3 1/2 weeks. Seems longer, but it's true...3 1/2 weeks. The picture to the right is a shot of our neighborhood (a pic that I didn't take but robbed off the internet). The city of Campinas is a pretty big city. Population is over 1 million. There are TONS of things here that they just don't have in the central or north. Things like, I learned today...Wet 'n' Wild with a theme park next to it. Hello. :) We haven't gone or anything, but just a glimpse of how much more like the states it is the further south you go in Brazil. I'd always heard that, but am now seeing it firsthand. It's still very definitely NOT the United States, but sure does resemble it alot more than central/north Brazil. Very interesting.

Portuguese learning is going really well. What am I doing to learn Portuguese?

First of all, class. The language school I am attending was started by a lady whose son now runs it. He wrote the book on Portugese...literally. As in, he wrote the textbook that most people who come to Brazil use to learn Portuguese. It is an EXCELLENT program. The textbook itself is excellent, but when you take the course here at their school, you get even more...there are countless exercises that they have to help you learn and practice the language + just so much more as far as the help they provide, even just about living in another culture. Joel grew up here, but he never had to do any grown-up stuff here. Even though we've lived here for 3+ years, we learned a few new things just by reading their 'How to Make Brazil Your Home' handouts. :) So...it's been an excellent experience for us.

My teachers are excellent. I have class with Cassia (pronounced CASS-e-uh) first. She happens to be the daughter of the man who wrote the textbook...so neat to see how this business and love for teaching languages has followed on through three generations. Then I have class with Vera who has worked as a Portuguese teacher for around 25 years. Lots of great information and tips they have. I definitely recommend this school/program for anyone finding themselves in Brazil. :)

Along with school, I needed some way to practice my speaking and hearing of Portuguese. Understanding everything your Portuguese teacher (student of languages) says is very different than understanding people in 'real life'...people who use lots of expressions and lots of slang and don't pronounce their words completely (the same as we all talk). And, then put those people in groups where they are all talking at once...yeah, I get lost really quickly. But, it's excellent practice for again, real life.

So, Cassia told me about something that lots of her students have done. There is a store where you can go and buy materials to make rugs (or anything that you want to make...could be just decorative things for the walls)...and then stay there to make your rugs and just gab!! Is that not the funnest thing you ever heard of? :) Just a bunch of ladies sitting around talking...and 'bordando.' Sorry...not sure what that is in English...some type of embroidery or cross-stitch I'm guessing just from the looks of it. I am NOT a crafty girl, but this I like. And...SO MUCH CULTURE in that place!! It kind of reminds me of that movie 'Beauty Shop.' Yes, I saw that. I do not remember if it was a good, clean movie or not (probably not the best), but I do remember that it's just so cultural...all the sistas (and the lone whitey) getting together and talking together. Loved that. Well, this is what it's like...just a different demographic. So so so so fun.

Those are the main things that I'm doing. But, along with those things, I found a Weight Watchers meeting walking distance from our house. So, once a week before I go to class, I go there. Another great opportunity to listen to how Brazilians talk. It's one thing to have vocabulary, but a way different thing to know how they put their words together and all the expressions they use. Plus, since I spent some time in Weight Watchers meetings there in the states, it's been fun to see the differences between Brazilian Weight Watchers (Vigilantes do Peso) and American Weight Watchers.

Sidenote: Expressions are such a huge thing. I was sitting with a group of ladies having lunch while we were in the states. One of the ladies was talking about her daughter and how she had a 'free ride' at the college she chose. I thought, man...if someone sitting at this table was in the process of learning English, they would not have any idea what that meant. Their thoughts would immediately focus on the next few sentences and trying to figure out how the ride was free and where she was being taken and who was giving her the ride. :) And then they would be totally lost because in the next few sentences those details wouldn't come and then by that point, they would have lost what had been said because their brains were trying to follow something that in reality wasn't reality...free ride was not about a ride in a vehicle at all. See what I'm saying? It's really helpful to be learning the expressions. :)

The other thing that I do is work out. I joined a little tiny gym that practically gave me the membership for free, also within walking distance. I spend about an hour a day there and as much as I really prefer to not socialize when I work out, it never fails that I get some practice in there too. :) So, it's good.

Learning another language is so interesting. I can't say that it's something that I would want to do if I didn't have to. If I lived in the states or any other English-speaking country, I'm sure I'd spend my time doing other things...unlike others I know who find it so interesting that they love to learn languages. It is fascinating though. And some say that you need a teacher that doesn't speak your native language. Hmmm...while I totally get their thoughts on that, I have to say that I really disagree. It has been so helpful to have someone who knows how to compare the two languages and be sure to point out the ways they differ and things to be careful about...explained in Portuguese of course. For instance, in English, when we say "Substitute yogurt for eggs" we mean that we are going to use yogurt instead of eggs. In Portuguese, it's exactly the opposite. When they say the very same phrase, they mean use eggs instead of yogurt. So strange to our ears and the way we process that phrase, but man...so glad to know that very important detail. :)

A typical day for me looks like this...

We wake up at around 7am. I do homework and work out at the gym and then go to class at 10am. I have class with Cassia for an hour and then class with Vera for an hour. Then I go home for lunch. I eat and then do homeschool with the kids (we only brought math, handwriting, and a little reading with us) until around 3ish. Then I go to the 'rug place' until around 5:30pm. Come home, fix some supper, eat, get the kids ready for bed and put them down, shower, and then get a little down time with the hubby before going to bed at 11pm.

What is Joel doing? (Picture is of him making granola just a few minutes ago.) He spends some time corresponding with Asas via internet. He is also working on getting some of his licenses renewed and up-to-date. But, other than that, he is playing Mr. Mom...and doing the most incredible job I might add. He is nothing like Jack in Mr. Mom, except that he has a great sense of humor like Jack. Eissa had the big D this morning (after 'spilling' during the night last night...pray for our kiddos' health again, please) when I was about to walk out the door to class. I asked him if he wanted me to stay home instead. He said with a little smirk, "No, I want you to learn Portuguese...and fast." Hahaha. OK.

Another thing that Joel does is teach our kids Portuguese during the mornings. He speaks to them in Portuguese alot, reads to them, and they 'play' on Rosetta Stone (the kids call it the 'square game on the computer'). They also watch a couple of hours of cartoons/kids' shows in the afternoons and after only 3 1/2 weeks are already speaking a ton of Portuguese.

Funny story: We went to the mall the other night and left something there, but realized it before we pulled completely out of the parking lot. So, Joel just pulled in somewhere that wasn't the greatest of places so that he could run in and get it really quickly. Well, of course a security guard came over. I really, really didn't want to move because if I did, Joel would've never found us. So, I started playing the 'I'm a dumb American' card. I spoke a little Portuguese to him, but was hesitating in my words. I knew what words came next, but didn't want to say them. I was stalling. But...hilariously, Grady started finishing my sentences. Hahaha...thanks son. But, one thing that I said was that Joel had gone into the mall...and I was stalling to say 'to find something.' Then Grady busts out '...procurando...' I just started laughing. Thankfully, Joel came back to the car right then. But, I was very excited about Grady's abilities in Portuguese that had already returned. :)

So, back to the role-reversal thing...I did have to stay home the other day instead of going to the rug place. I have to say, I am not meant to be a non-stay-at-home mom. There are so many things that I'm not doing that I want to do here at home. But, so glad that as soon as I have this Portuguese thing down, I can do that again.

OH...and Cassia is in her early 30s...she is not pregnant, but is just thinking ahead. On the first day of class when I was explaining to her who I am and one of the reasons I need to learn Portuguese (other than the obvious one...that I live in Brazil...hahaha), she said that she wanted to be my 'first student' in the Bradley Method. I was excited about that, but didn't really think much of it just yet. A few days later, she told me again that she wanted to meet with me about that...and that she would help to translate what I needed to translate. Hello!! Huge!!

Of course, the problem was that I hadn't brought any of my Bradley stuff with me...didn't think I'd need it. But, some great new friends of mine (that I took the Bradley instructor course with) are scanning it for me and sending it my way a bit at a time. Where there's a will, there's a way...or, when it's God's will, He makes the way. :) So, I'm really super excited about it. Not sure that it will actually count as my 'first class,' but at least things will get translated, I will get practice teaching, and the first Brazilian will learn about the Bradley Method with me. She will do great...she is already very naturally-minded and does not want a c-section when the time comes.

So, there's a look at what is going on around here from day-to-day. And, here's some more to look at.

This is the rug place. You walk in and are greeted by the buzz of busy, talking ladies. So fun. The lady in the blue-green outfit is the co-owner, along with her sister.
See all those pretty rugs? After that front room, you can turn and go up a few steps to the big room that is always full of visiting, 'rugging' ladies.
They were like, "Oooh, we're going to the United States?" Hahaha. They were laughing the whole time. They had to fix their hair and make sure their clothes were just so before I started snapping shots.

Hahaha...they were just cuttin' up so much...and cracking me up. They really are so interesting and funny. Love to hear them talk...everything from their families and houses to, of course, the latest novela (soap opera). Hahaha.
My welcome mat that will go on the wall instead of on the floor. Again, not crafty. Lots of time will go into this...ain't nobody gonna be wiping their nasty feet on my hard work.
And a few of the kiddos. Grady, mid-cough.


Bubble wrap makes a great veil, did you know that? Hadley promptly made herself one, said she was married, and Grady stepped up to the plate to dance with the bride.
Our first weekend here...we went to a little zoo very near to here...free to the public and in a really nice, pretty park.

Good ole sugar cane juice.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Healthy Bodies Continued


Well, we have them. :) Thanks for praying you guys!! (above picture taken while visiting Joel's family in the Boston area)

Super quick update (because I'm having a rental movie date with the hubby in 2.5 seconds)...

Nobody has 'spilled' (what Cass called it when she needed to throw up...I've decided to add that word usage to my vocabulary) since last weekend. Yay.

My back is now back to almost 100%. It was slow and I was beginning to wonder what in the world I could do to get it all healed up and then, just like that, it was better. I started running again slowly and yesterday ran my usual time again. Looking at the possibility of running a 7K here in September. Funness.

And, Cass...
After x-rays and ultrasounds last week, we finally got the word yesterday that basically it was still a mystery. Our wonderful angel doctor (the one that we met at church that night...see last post if you don't know the story) asked us to come to see him once more last night. So, we met him and he looked at it again...just feeling the knot on her bone. He said that he was going to be going to a meeting this morning and would run into one of his friends who is an orthopedist. He would see if that doc could see us and get back with us to let us know.

So, this morning we got a call around 10:30 or so. He had just gotten out of that meeting and this doctor could see us...now. So, Joel and Cass went (with pictures in tow of Cass before accident and with a normal collarbone...thanks to my obsession with taking pictures of our kids, we had plenty of diagnostic evidence of pre-accident appearance of the collarbone...hahaha) and our doc met him there.

Basically, Joel and Cass spent all morning being whisked around by our doc at the huge teaching hospital here on the Unicamp college campus (very respected college here in Brazil). First they went to the orthopedist who had all of his interns there with him...about 10 of them. Joel said they ooh'd and ahh'd at Cass and then got down to the business of palpating and looking at her shoulder. They looked at the x-rays and ultrasound report and had a pow wow in their office...great for teaching purposes I'm sure. Then came to the conclusion that they needed a better x-ray.

Then our doc whisked Joel and Cass into the radiology department where tons of people were waiting to have their x-ray taken and they walked straight to the x-ray machine. They got their x-ray and went straight back to the ortho doc and his interns. They stood there in the hall gathered around Cass, oohing and ahhing some more, and holding up the x-ray to discuss what they saw.

The ortho doc (head professor of orthopedics there...who was great by the way...Joel said he was so good with Cass and even said a few things to her in English...our angel doc was the same way) said right away that it was very clear that she had fractured the bone. The x-ray from today was of much higher quality and they also got more angles. They said that the bump was there because of calcification. There's nothing you can do for a broken/fractured collarbone. So, even if we'd known, wouldn't have changed anything. And the bump...they said that because of the calcification there might always be somewhat of a bump there, but that it should go down some. Of course, we are hoping that it goes down completely. We'll just have to wait and see though.

We are so very glad to have a verdict. Whew. You know...when there is an unknown, it's just an uneasy feeling. Cass is fine...she hardly complains about it at all. She stopped complaining when we pick her up. Of course, we modified the way we picked her up for a while. But, after a while tried it the regular way. I noticed that most the time she just tilts her head to the side...so, she might still have some pain that she has learned how to adapt to. But, she doesn't complain anymore. Even when we touch the bump, she says it doesn't really hurt anymore. So, that's good. The docs said that at her age, the fracture might have even healed up already. First kid to break a bone. Interesting experience.

Thanks for the prayers y'all!! We so appreciate it. God has taken such good care of us here. We have no insurance. There have been a few times through the years when we haven't had insurance...this isn't the first time. We had it here before we went to the states, but cancelled it when we left. Even if we had our insurance that we had before, it wouldn't work here in the city where we are now. See what I mean? There have just been times when it hasn't worked out for us to have it.

The first time we lived without it, Joel was reading in Isaiah 58. One part of that reads...

7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness [a] will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.

And another part...

10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.

11 The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.

Joel felt like the Lord was saying, "That's your insurance right now." We were sure to give something to every beggar that came to our door. Hahaha. But seriously, that's the way we should live. That's the Body of Christ. I'm telling you, the Body of Christ has sure come through for us these last couple of weeks. People we don't know from Adam, but we have the same Father.

That's what it's all about...and we are truly thankful beyond words.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Healthy Bodies

That's what we need.

First of all, if you haven't read the post below, you should. Such a great time with my son.

And secondly, those of you who are on Facebook may have already heard the news about Cass. But, for those of you who aren't on Facebook or haven't heard, I wanted to give you some things to be praying about for us. Here's the scoop...

Last Thursday night, Cass fell. It was a pretty good fall and bruised her cheek bone, but she seemed fine after some snuggling...no biggie. Friday she started complaining of her neck hurting when we picked her up. I didn't even think of the fall because I had also seen her sleeping pretty cockeyed, so just thought it was that...she'd slept on it wrong. We just watched it though. On Saturday it seemed to be better, but then on Sunday night she complained again when I picked her up. I put her back down and she amazingly stayed still enough for me to get a good look at her neck/shoulder area, standing in front of her, looking straight on. I noticed that her left collar bone was different than the right. Her left collar bone, at the end nearest her neck, had a knot, or a bulge. I actually thought that maybe that fall had caused it to become dislocated or something...

So, we happened to be at church. It was our first weekend here in Campinas, so it was our first time to visit this church. But, we have friends from Asas who are members there and they just happen to be in town right now on their furlough. So, I found them and asked if they knew a doctor in that church. After service, they brought one to check Cass out. He called us the next morning and said that he'd arranged for us to go have an x-ray. God's provision through this whole thing has been amazing.

So, we go and get the x-ray. "Our" doctor is a dermatologist, so he took it to one of his friends who is a pediatrician. The pediatrician said that it looked like an osteochondroma ('bone spur' or abnormal growth on the end of a long bone), but that this wasn't his specialty...so our doctor took it to another friend of his, an orthopedic doctor. That doctor said that the only speculation he could have by the x-ray is the same thing...osteochondroma. The only thing they could think of to explain the pain was that with the fall, maybe it was cracked a bit, but nothing really showed up on the x-ray. So...we were asked to get an ultrasound today to hopefully have some more answers as to what it is. She is totally fine...as long as you don't lift her up under her left arm or push on that bulge, so that's good. But, of course we definitely want to find out what this is and what we can do about it...what is causing her pain and how to remedy that. So, please pray for this ultrasound to be conclusive for us. Thanks.

This has been an interesting week. Grady and Hadley have also been puny. Hadley threw up just once during the night a couple of nights ago...was fine after that. But, Grady threw up last night and his puniness seems to be lasting...he's still asleep and it's almost 11am here. Not like him at all. So, just pray for them.

And...then there's me. I have been 'down in my back' this week. It started hurting about 3 days ago, but I decided that I was just going to push through it. Well yesterday, after 2 days of pushing, I could barely walk. Joel drove me to class (it's about a 10-15 minute walk from our house, so I always just walk) and after I'd sat in class for 2.5 hours, I literally almost had to ask to be carried to the car. :( Came home and laid down in bed and have been there ever since. One of my Portuguese teachers gave me the info for her chiropractor...I have an appointment with him/her this afternoon. Pray! I can't do anything...and there is lots I need to be doing. Poor Joel.

So, it's been a rough week. But, at the same time, God is really taking care of us. The ultrasound? Our doctor said that the church wanted to pay for it...they had already written a check for it. Wow...we've been to that church once. They don't know us. Amazing. Love God's family!

Not sure when we'll know the results of the ultrasound. Might have to wait until sometime next week since today is Friday...and the ultrasound is scheduled for 4pm. But, we'll keep you posted for sure. Thanks for the prayers!!

A couple of posts ago I mentioned the Arnold family...the brother who gave his other brother part of his liver and then passed away. Well, the family just shared this clip on Facebook and I wanted to pass it along. So sad, but so inspiring too.

Again, thanks for your prayers. We'll keep you updated on our bodies! And don't forget to scroll down to read about Grady. Thanks.

 

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Two Big Nights with My Big Boy


(This was written last Wednesday night, August 4th...I'm just not taking the time to go through and edit the 'last nights' and 'yesterdays'.)

Grady's name means 'Noble Knight.' He really does already embody that. He is good in every sense of the word. He loves to do what is right. He doesn't make rash decisions and doesn't like it when others do either. He's a thinker. He is very knightly in that he is brave, but also very cautious and wise. Truly...all at the age of 6.

From an early age I could tell that he had a bend toward logic. It's something that we will definitely watch carefully...in the Christian life, logic can definitely be your biggest enemy. God has us do lots of things that aren't 'logical' in our own minds. So, we don't take it lightly, but also think it's a great trait if steered in the right direction and balanced with the other things.

I love how he loves to learn about things. We watched Spencer's Mountain the other night...such a great movie (except for that hoochie girl...ugh). When Clay Boy is graduating, his teacher says about him, "Every once in a while, a young student comes along with a hungry look in the eye who's not content just to memorize facts, who wants to know, who has an inquiring mind. And everything he learns only whets his appetite to learn more." Grady reminds me of Clay Boy alot...and that statement sounds like Grady. He watches and thinks and ponders.

I love to watch Grady. He's brainy vs. emotional. He calculates. He wonders. Case in point for the logical thing: On a 'regular' schedule, when we are at home, one of the things I do with them during the day is have a time of worship. The girls love it...they dance and sing and praise and worship. For Grady, it is pretty much like pulling teeth. Of course, I don't pull his teeth. I don't force him to do anything (he must be there and be still and quiet, but doesn't have to participate). That will come in time, with his love for Jesus. But, he's just not like the girls who go after something, modeling it. No, he watches, he wonders, he questions...and then he decides if he's ready and wants to do something.

After we have a time of worship, we dive into the Word. The girls model it, but Grady...he comes ALIVE. I go through the Proverbs with them...I just explain a few verses on their level each day. Grady eats the Proverbs like good ole chicken soup. He'll ask, "Is it time for Proverbs?" It's just his thing. That's his natural bend.

So...

Every night we say goodnight and kiss the kids and tell them we love them. Then we pray with them. Then I sing to them for a little bit while they are on their way to sleepyland. Since the kids have been in two rooms now for a while, of course I do it twice. Usually I go to Grady's room last...in general, he stays awake longer anyway...the girls go quickly.

Last night when I got in there, he very calmly and matter-of-factly stated that he just wanted God and the devil to go away. Of course, I don't react to such things. Want a surefire way to ensure that your kids will never share anything with you and will never come to you with any questions? React in a negative way, or over-react to something they say. Freak out. Shut them down before they ever even get any more words out. Let them know, even if only by body language, that their questions make you uncomfortable. Just a few tips.

So, I just said, "Really? What do you mean?" It was a pretty long conversation, but what I really wanted to find out was what was making him feel that way. I wanted to get to the root. He basically said that he just didn't believe it all. That he used to think it was true, but that "it just sounds like a bunch of superheroes stuff" to him. Yes, that's a quote. He said that he didn't understand them and that he wanted them to go away so he just didn't have to worry about it. He wanted them to go away so it would just be people (translation: no supernatural stuff that he couldn't see or understand). He would be a missionary and do what God wanted, but then he wanted God to leave him alone and go away.

Wow. Yes, he's six. How many people 'struggle with their faith' when they are like in their 20s? 6? Wasn't really expecting this. Hahaha.

So, basically last night I tried to just think about the good in it. He's asking questions. He's really thinking. He's not just going along with something...a great, great trait to have. But, at the same time, it scared me a bit. It made me have a little sick feeling in my stomach. And it did two main things (good things): 1) pray for him like crazy, and 2) evaluate myself. Grady isn't the kind to just do something because you say it's the right thing to do. If you believe it, but aren't walking it out, Grady ain't gonna buy it. I mean, truthfully, to some extent we are all like that. But, some (like my girls) have more grace for that...'they believe it but just aren't able to walk that out fully just yet', etc. Or, they just don't pick up on it like others. But, Grady...nuh-uh...not that he's not gracious at all (he is very loving and forgiving), but he also sees through to the core...to what the truth is. Remember...he watches. He takes it in. He ponders and decides if he wants to model what he sees. Am I modeling what I say I believe? Am I modeling what I want him to believe and walk out? So, yeah...some major self-evaluation was going on last night. And, praying. And, just a time of 'stepping it up a notch' with how purposeful we want to be with our children. Serious it surely is.

Anyway, so the conversation ended well last night, but with no real breakthroughs. Basically, I tried to give him the simplest of explanations for what he needs to know about God and the devil...he seemed a bit overwhelmed with his thoughts. I assured him that it was OK to not understand, and that with time, God would help him to understand more. No biggie. To which he just wanted Him to go away. :) (He had brought this up with Joel too...and Joel did the same thing. Bot of us had some great conversations.)

So...tonight I get done with the girls and walk over to Grady's room. I walk in and he says, "Mama, I just want to tell you something." He basically started telling me the same things he had the night before (again, he had already talked to Joel about it...ha; really on his mind and heart these days, don't you think?). That he didn't understand and that he wanted God and the devil to go away. He began to ask questions...lots and lots and lots of questions. Questions like "How do you know that God is real?" "What do we need God and the devil for?" "How do you know that the Bible is true?" How can you really get to know God?" "How did He make the world?" "What powers does He have?" "How do you know He's telling you something and it's not just somebody else or what you are thinking?" "What does it all mean?" (yes, that was one of his questions...can we say "Ecclesiastes?"...hahaha). And on and on and on. All those questions that that 20-something year old who is struggling with their faith asks. Hahaha.

It, honestly, was so great. I loved, loved, loved answering all his questions. Truthfully, I am praying that by asking all these questions now, they will be answered for him, now, and he won't ever go through the 'struggle of faith' that so many do. Why? Because it will be His...He will reach the decision. It won't just be something that he does because that's what he was told to do or that's what everyone around him was doing. Love, love, love that. Genuine belief. Genuine trust. It's a great thing to have it settled in your own mind when you are 6 instead of 16, don't you think? With his logical bend, maybe it's something that he'll have to reach a conclusion about again (and it just might take a while)...but, I pray that it will be settled for him at an early age, once and for all.

By the end of the conversation (that lasted at least an hour), he once again had a smile on his face about God. He said that he was going to think about this some more. :) I'm sure he will.

Hadley has such a strong, outward personality. But, Grady's quiet, inner strength is equally as powerful, just in a different way. So fun to watch them grow.

And...all of the God conversation about how He does things led to, yes, how he came about. He said, "How was I made? I mean, I know it was God, but how?" :)

Again, I do not back down from questions (if you think my explanation will be TMI for you, just click away now). I could easily ensure that he never asks me that again...but I want him to ask me things. I want to be the one that he comes to with anything, even that...especially that. :) So, I just quickly explained it to him that girls have eggs (I didn't say that it's just like a chicken, but I'm sure he thought of that...it's really simple to relate us humans to animals when explaining such things) and that every month one of those eggs drops down into this thing called a uterus. He asked what a uterus was and I just told him it was one of my body parts at the bottom part of my belly. One of those eggs came down and that part of me and part of Daddy came together to make him. (This amazed me, but he interrupted me when I said the part about one egg coming down and said, "But sometimes 2 come down because sometimes 2 babies are in a belly at one time!")

G: But how does that part of Daddy get in you? Does he have to go in your body or something?
(Wow...so smart...so logical)
M: Yes. (wondering if the 'yes' would be sufficient)
G: How? (hmm, guess the 'yes' wasn't enough...hahaha)
M: Well, we sleep in the same bed. And sometimes part of a man comes in part of a woman...and sometimes that makes a baby. (Said matter-of-factly of course; and then back to his love for Proverbs...) That's why it's so important to never sleep in the same bed with someone who isn't your husband or wife!
G: Because you don't want somebody else to crack your egg!!
M: ............Exactly. (and a little LOLOLOL)

Let's just say, it's been a very information-filled couple of nights.

Addendum: I've always wanted the whole birds and bees discussion to be very natural and part of our everyday lives...not a one-time talk or even a thing that we talk about only when they reach a certain age. I'm just that way in general anyway, so even without 'aids' it would be done that way in our house, in our relationships. But, a few years ago (Grady was a baby), I heard about some books that were great. So, I decided to check them out. If you want some amazing books to share with your children (of all ages...they have a book for each age group) to explain certain things on their level and in a Godly manner, you have to check out these books. Hadley brought the one for their age level to me today, in fact, to read to them. I have read it before, but not in a long time (since we were in the states and all). They loved it...and love hearing the story of how God brings two people together to love each other and have babies. It was really cute. Anyway, go check them out...they are just wonderful!!

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Campinas

We are here. We made it. We set up two houses in one week and we are exhausted. So, we are now enjoying the more relaxed tempo of life...settling into this new place and finding out a routine for ourselves.

I am loving Portuguese classes. I have classes everyday from 10am-12:15pm. It's just perfect. I have one teacher for one hour, have a 15 minute break, then another teacher for the last hour. I've learned a lot so far. These people really know what they are doing. This is what they do constantly...this is their lives, teaching foreigners Portuguese (or English, or French...they offer all three at the school). So, they are very strategic and orderly in their teaching and keep a fast, but thorough pace. Can't say enough...love it.

During the afternoon I study and do homework and am finding other activities around the community to practice hearing and speaking in Portuguese.

Campinas is a great city. It is pretty huge. Pretty crowded. Pretty loud. But, it's a great step-down for anyone coming directly from the United States to Brazil. I have already grown accustomed to living without certain things since moving here in June of 2007. But, it sure is nice to be here and be living with for a while longer after returning from the states. For instance, about 3 blocks from our house is a Starbucks(!!). There is an Applebee's in town, along with an Outback, TGIFriday's, Burger King (we don't have any of these in Anapolis). Also, there are a few Mexican restaurants right in our neighborhood...HELLO! :) Someone said that Mexican food seems to be the new trend...that new places are popping up all the time. Hmmm...maybe this trend will catch on in all of Brazil. And we haven't even researched...those things just popped out at us in signs and billboards. We haven't even been around the city at all...who knows what we'll find. We haven't been to any of these places yet (although I did surprise Joel with a Caramel Frap yesterday from Starbuck's)...and we may not visit some of them. Budget just doesn't allow. But, it's just so nice to simply have the options around you. All part of the 'comfort' factor and being near what's familiar I guess.

It's definitely been interesting coming back. It's sad, exciting, depressing, fun...each emotion has its moment. I think about the coming year and what is penciled in for possibilities for us...exciting. I look at my kids when they say something really funny and realize that none of their family will be able to see that in person...depressing. We go for a walk to a nearby padaria and enjoy pao de queijo together...fun. I dress my kids up in cute outfits and think, I wish our friends and family in the states could see them...sad. Just a few glimpses of what a day can hold in the gamut of emotions for people who live like we do. It's very...tiring, emotionally. But yet exhilarating...depending on the moment.

I have a cyperfriend (we have mutual friends in real life) named Michelle. Her husband's brothers were both involved in a liver transplant surgery. The older brother had been sick for years with liver problems...the doctors finally saying that a transplant was his only hope. His younger brother gave him 2/3 of his liver. Surgery went great, they were both recuperating well, but then on the 3rd day the younger brother stopped breathing. He was resuscitated, but a test revealed no brain activity. He went to be with Jesus on Monday. He left behind a wife and 3 little boys, ages 6 and under. Can't even imagine. Be praying for the Arnold family.

So very heartbreaking. Life is filled with those sorts of things though...it just is. They come in many different forms and in varying degrees...sometimes in the form of losing someone through death, sometimes in the form of living without the loved ones who are still living. But, what do you do? You just walk. You just take the next step and keep telling yourself what you know is true...that God is trustworthy.

And sometimes that is all we know. It must be enough.