February 23, 2011

LETTING LOVE COVER



What happens when there is a conversation between a left-brained person and a right-brained person?

Do harmony, happiness and bliss come to mind? No, they do not.

I´ll tell you what happens at my house: Intuitive, feeling-sensing types end up hurt and the rational, practical ones believe the intuitive, feeling-sensing types make absolutely no sense! One is looking through an intuitive, more visual holistic grid of how it affects people and the other is peering through a lens of logical, sequential steps from A to Z. Do you know what I´m talking about?!
One study put it like this: "The left side of the brain is the seat of language and processes in a logical and sequential order. The right side is more visual and processes intuitively, holistically, and randomly."
Do you know what "logical" and "intuitive" or "sequential" and "random" have in common? Nothing.

It is said that "Love covers a multitude of sins." When Mr. Adventure and I were newlyweds, our blind, new love did indeed cover up many, many sins. But through the years reality set in, decisions grew more and more complex, life became extremely busy and there are times we seem to be less and less willing & able to let love cover.

Whether the issue is a simple "Should we invite so-and-so over for dinner?" or a complex "Should we move to another continent?", I am still learning to practice loving listening, to not let his "practicality" shout "uncaring!", to allow myself to push past my own myopia to get inside his head and see things the way he sees them. Tonight I have been challenged again to let love cover.

When we were in Morocco we were in a study program with some others and one of our assignments was keeping a journal of our emotions. This was separate from our journal of cultural observations. Personally, I thought it was hilarious to watch us all turn in our assignments: my "emotions" journal meant multiple photocopies and the guys´ journals were about the size of a 3x5" index card! There is never any lack in the emotions department for me. I got the highest grade in the class on my journal! haha

I like to say that I "think emotionally". I´m not sure Mr. Adventure would believe "think" and "emotion" belong in the same sentence! But we desperately need each other. Just think if someone had a perfectly balanced right-left brain. Well, that´s us! It´s just that he has one half and I have the other half. Bringing them together is the goal and the challenge. Let´s choose to LET LOVE COVER.

February 22, 2011

MY TRIP TO THE SPA


I don´t mean to whine but why do spas have to cost so much? Now that I live in Europe I see certain advertisements of chocolate covered faces, fruit & herb baths, clients in one of those fluffy white towels getting a massage, etc. The price is a crime. Especially when internationally there are such economical versions of the spa around the world.

The year we lived in Morocco I visited the public bath called the hammam. It cost 70 cents. I was there for at least 2 hours. OK, so it wasn´t exactly the pampering kind. The floors were hard tile (and you had to sit on them). My neighbors stared at me. I had to haul my own buckets of water. It was stressful linguistically for me. BUT I always came out feeling amazing! When I took my two girls, they slept like logs afterwards. I felt a part of the female community in a small way. And the price was right!

The Turks have a bath that is quite famous and I really wanted to go when I made it to Istanbul one time. But we were just passing through and would have been relegated to doing a pricey tourist version so I had to pass it up. (After all that shwarma, baklava and Turkish Delight, I was pretty much out of money anyway.)

Then I was in Indonesia last year with Mr. Adventure visiting some friends and we got to go to the FISH SPA. No, I am not kidding. See?


The price was right so he went for it!


So, here´s how it works...you put your feet in this pool...and the little toe-jam eating fishies eat all your dead skin cells! Isn´t that amazing?

Here´s the close-up. Yes, it does tickle.

There was a female client who was there getting "preened" but when my husband & his friend stuck their feet in there, they abandoned ship for this fresh carnage who had never-before-been-cleaned-at-the-fish-spa feet and gave them a lot more to work with! Did I mention that these fish had never seen a foot larger than a size 5? This was a BIG day for them.
A small crowd formed to watch the foreign feeding frenzy...
hahahaha


My girlfriend and I decided on a foot massage for about the same price.

Do we really need to have a vote on who made the better choice here?!!

So, while I am terribly curious about European spas and somewhat jealous of those who can afford them, I am thrilled to have experienced some international we-the-people versions of spas. Plus, I can take advantage of my international spa know-how and use my Moroccan scrub of puréed olive pits or my Dead Sea masque from Jordan. Haven´t made it to the pet store for fish yet, though...



LINGUISTIC MULTI-TASKING


Are you a multi-tasker? Are you at least a wannabe? Try language learning!!

After struggling in 3 new languages as an adult with varying results, I know how hard it can be. BUT I also know about the victories inherent in the process. For those of you still in the throes of it, you are probably looking forward to MAKING RELATIONSHIPS, COMMUNICATING, becoming a PRODUCTIVE MEMBER of your community and gaining INSIDERSHIP into your HOST CULTURE.

But have you considered the following advantages?

1. The ability to reprimand your kids in a language no one around can understand.
2. The ability to reprimand your husband in a language no one around can understand.
3. Being able to have more friends (you probably thought of this one).
4. Being able to choose words from more than one language to express your exact sentiment.
5. Having an excuse for early onset Alzheimer-like symptoms as you stuff all that new information in your brain.
6. Mixing languages within your family and having a good excuse for miscommunication.
7. Being able to laugh (in private) at others´use of English because (1) you know the struggle and (2) it´s just so funny!
AND
7. Being able to multi-task.

What do I mean , you ask?

Sometimes you come across words in your new language that mean several things at once. In Morocco, I loved learning one word or phrase that I could milk for about 15 minutes of conversation. For example:

you: Labas? (how are you?)

friend: Labas. (fine.)

you: Labas Fatima? (how is Fatima?)

friend: Labas. (fine.)

you: Labas Mohammed?

friend: Labas.

"Labas" is one of my multi-task words. I learned one word and could use it for both "How are you?" and "I´m fine." Can you see me smiling? This works in Italy, too, I found. Learn "ciao" and you already know how to say Hello AND Good-bye! The same in Hawaii with "aloha" (you might not get to use that one very often).

Then there are what I call "free" words. They are the ones that you don´t have to learn in your new language because you already know them! How cool is that?! Like coup or á la mode in French. Like zapat in Arabic (zapato in Spanish). Like taco or siesta in Spanish. You gotta love these little freedom fighters.

It goes without saying that you can also do cultural & linguistic multi-tasking by doing such things as: reading the newspaper in Farsi and drinking your tea English-style, cooking up some Italian pasta while you talk on the phone in Mandarin with a friend, kill filipino cockroaches while you correct an American kid´s homework or jam with some gypsies on Spanish guitars in a Moroccan-style salon in an American home (that last one would be yours truly)! I know you can think of so many other cool ways.

So, I´m gonna fix me some Argentine mate while I write in English for an international audience just before my Mexican fajita lunch!



February 17, 2011

Laser Saber Prayers



Today I prayed for a "laser saber".

I had never prayed for one before.

But today I "HAD TO FIND" a laser saber for my son who thought the world could possibly come to an end if he didn´t have one for a carnival tomorrow at school. You see, tomorrow he will go to this festival at school dressed as the coolest Darth Vader ever and our former laser saber from the dime store was trashed a long time ago.

Yesterday we had walked all over our pueblo looking for one. This was a test of my patience and selfish weighing of "all the more important things I could be doing". It was a test for him of surrendering his "ideal costume" to a potentially frumpier one made of cardboard toilet paper rolls duct taped together or some other homemade version. We both came home discouraged and out of time to do anything more about it. Unfortunately, I did not have the spiritual insight & sensitivity to do a laser saber prayer together then. He had a rather sad face at dinner.

Later on I was convicted that there are way too many times that I am overly demanding of something I want or need. It may not be very important in the bigger scheme of things but it´s important to me. How many times has God looked with mercy on me in my immaturity and given me something I totally didn´t deserve? How about every day of my life! Sometimes even asking for spiritual things - ministry results, multiplied time or insight, even miracles - can be selfishly motivated. In His wisdom He knows that my version of a request can be off target from what His hand full of mercy is poised to do.

I resolved to set out this morning and find a laser saber. But I prayed as I got in the car. That I would find it (for a good price!) and be able to bless my son´s day. That he would know gratefulness. That I would walk in selflessness. That buying a laser saber would make me very conscious of my own sword of the Spirit. That I could bless someone while I was out. That my son and I could talk of good and evil, Darth Vader and the Force and be glad to know Jesus, the Victor. The laser saber prayer led me down a sweet trail.

I can´t wait to give it to him!

And I can´t wait to pray another laser saber prayer tomorrow...



DELIVERER


























You are my strong Deliverer
In every day, in every moment
In every darkness, in every emotion
Changing, moving, transferring
From kingdom of darkness to light.

You are my strong Healer
In every pain, in every wound
In every memory, in every weakness
Touching, ministering, curing
From pallet to rejoicing walk.

You are my strong Redeemer
In every confusion, in every sin
In every beguilement, in every habit
Transforming, saving, lifting
From desert to beautiful garden.

You are my strong Lover
In every season, in every stage
In every state, in every age
Wooing, embracing, intoxicating
From unlovely to beloved.

You are my strong Warrior
In every gene, in every cell
In every experience, in every self-battle
Overriding, warring, triumphing
From victim to victor.
Pjs 12/18/10

Photo by: Matt Brandon, Digital Trekker
Used by permission

February 16, 2011

A PSALM: PRESSING IN


There is a pressing in, a cloud around us

It threatens to overwhelm – and to overcome

It came, unbidden

It is a heavy companion.


There is a pressing in, a reckoning with self

A confession drawing us to God and to those who love us

A crushing scent and taste

It is our sober companion.


There is a pressing in, a soulful stirring

The saltiness of tears and brush of hyssop

An attending of wounds, a new, light rain

It is a deepening companion.


There is a pressing in, a lifting of head

A fixing of the eyes, the shadow of a cross

The earthy perfume after a rain

It is a deciding companion.


There is a pressing in, a certain resolution

A band of colors in the sky, daring us to hope

We lift our hands, surrendering

It is a startling companion.


There is a pressing in, a new leaning

A song from the garden gaining strength

There is praise - and an altar

It is an anointing companion.

Pjs 12/10

Everlasting | SONICFLOOd

February 3, 2011

SOMETHING COOL ABOUT MIDDLE-AGE




I hear our organization is middle-aged.

I don´t know about you but that sounds to me like B-O-R-I-N-G with a capital B! It´s not young (energetic & passionate) and its not old (sage & respectable). It´s just so....in-between! It´s the never-never land of middle-ness. And what is REALLY frightening is that I am one of the supplements to that statistic!

My journey into the middle years has been wrought with self-reflection, fatigue, rebellion & fruitless efforts to be someone younger or older than what I really am. I have been forced to reckon with forces of a changing body, the reality of teenagers in my home and its accompanying "wake-up calls", emotional crises and spiritual reckoning (as He reminds me that my truest identity is age-less).

Now mind you, I started my 40´s off with a bang: a new baby! (whom I wouldn´t trade for all the world!). And athough psychologically that should have helped me feel younger, I actually just felt more tired! But it did throw me into the baby, toddler, pre-schooler crowd afresh and drew out those young-mother years for a decade longer. Being in that role actually helped me maintain a certain youthfulness and attitude during what could have been potentially more traumatic. (ok, so "dramatic" is part of middle-age!)

The other thing that has seriously helped is the driving desire to stay connected with my kids who are teenagers. Because, they are, after all, cool. The epitomy of cool. And let´s face it, us parents are the epitomy of all-that-is-not-cool. We´ve worked through that now and have come to a happy balance of respect (sometimes my girls even borrow my clothes!). It took time to talk through, be interested in their topics of choice, their friends, staying up late, certain movies, books & music, etc. As our teens mature, our relationship is changing to more of an adult peer relationship and it is fun and it is COOL.

I was thinking about some older workers that I like to be with in our organization (and others outside of it). The ones I most enjoy seem to have a settled sense of who they are but also a sense of appreciation and interest in younger generations and EVEN the humility to believe they might learn something from them! They really blow me away. I mean, I´m supposed to learn from them, right? (And I do.) But I love it when they try to connect with trends and interests of a newer generation and stay relevant to us. That is COOL.

So, wouldn´t it be COOL (please forgive my morbid over-use of the word!) if in our middle-aged organization we were absolutely convinced we must not act typically middle-aged? That we must stay connected to youth (and recruit them!), valuing all the unique things they bring that we might not really understand or embrace? And that we must honor, provide a place and platform for the more sage among us? What would it take for us to be active recruiters of the young and active "honorers" of the old? To have a fluid back-and-forth movement between the generations so that we can have the best of all these worlds?

Let´s stop criticizing the young for their lack of commitment, techno attitudes and issues! Let´s take the elderly among us off our emotional shelf and draw them out! Let´s bridge the gap. Let´s do what we´ve been trained to do in the first place - cross cultures. We´ve got the skills to do this. Let´s move in LOVE as if we were ageless.

Now THAT would be COOL.

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