Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Good news...

It's been quite the past 3 days for the Carrs. I traveled by train on Monday evening from Valencia to Madrid in order to attend the appointment for the boys' visas. (We have to apply for residency in Madrid (a 6 hour trip from Denia) because our visa applications contained a Madrid address rather than the one in Denia) So, the lawyer was able to get them to give us an appointment for the boys (they refused to do us all at the same time). And since I speak Spanish, it was my opportunity to see the city's goverment offices.

Orange groves turned in to fields of olive trees, then into red clay, then big city Madrid. It was nice to take the train...quiet (my favorite part), and when you're in a uniform no one recognizes they tend to let you read your book in peace.

Tuesday morning I woke up to make some coffee before heading to our headquarters office to meet the lawyer. Well, apparently I didn't understand the whole glass top is not the cooking top thing, and just as I was getting myself some cookies the glass exploded! Not a great start to the day. Government officials make me nervous...and now I was going to have to confess to my boss I shattered the stove cover because I'm not that bright. (I swear, I'm not a complete idiot, I just have my moments.)

Anyways...the lawyer and I(after making copies of our ENTIRE passport) headed to the office of foreigners by taxi. It rained all morning in Madrid, which always makes treking in highheels from office to office a pleasant experience. The first office took all of our paperwork, glanced through the passports, and promptly handed it back to the lawyer. Because Jeff had returned to the States to retrieve the boys' visas after our arrival in Spain (which by Spanish law is allowed) the boys' passports never recieved an entry stamp within the time frame of their it's as if they never arrived in Spain. The girl at the computer simply said "You'll have to take them across a border and make another appointment when they have a stamp." (Mind you, Jeff and my visas only allow us to leave and re-enter Spain until Saturday) The lawyer asked to speak with the girl's boss. We were told that he was out having coffee and we would have to come back later. So the lawyer and I went and had coffee across the street and discussed potty training. When we came back the boss wouldn't see us and wouldn't make her an appointment (apparently they legally have to make an appointment for you).

At this point, I am praying "God, you softened Pharoah's heart to let people out, I'm asking you to soften people's heart to let us in." The lawyer decided to try another office. She told me it was a long shot, but we could at least try. So another taxi ride and discussion of electric cars later, we ended up in the Commissioner's office beside Madrid's jail. (What he was the commissioner of, I don't know, but apparently he was quite important.) He called the last guy that refused to see us, to try and sort the situation out. At first it seemed they were going to simply write a letter with his signature, verifying the boys being in Spain, essentially stamping their passports and then send us back to the previous office. After an hour of waiting with no return call and the lawyer pleading the case of "is this the impression of Spain and its citizens to upstanding outsiders who only want to be of assistance to the Spanish people", the Commissioner handed the paperwork to his 'secretary' (she did more than secretary work, but I don't know her offical title) and said "Here, just take care of this. I am going for a coffee if you need me."

The lawyer and I both were simply expecting them to take care of the boys' visas and get them squared away for residency. (In Spain, children and adult applications go through seperate offices and therefore often end up separating family residency applications.) The lady asked for Jeff and my applications and she did ALL OF OUR RESIDENCY APPLICATIONS! God is SO good! The whole family has now been registered and the only step in the process left is for us to go to Alicante (a much, much closer office) to get our thumb's printed and get residency cards!

As we were leaving the office with all our paperwork taken care of, I said to the lawyer "See, I told you I have pretty good luck with these government things so far. And I have a good God." To which she responded "And a good lawyer."

Friday, 24 October 2008

Top 5 things...

(People wind surfing during the windy winter on the Costa Blanca)

1. Bramwell and Jonas have begun to naturally respond to Spanish commands. (Ie: take my hand, sit down, etc.) Bram can nearly count better in Spanish than he does in English. It wasn't until Bram correctly responded to "Como te llamas" (What's your name?) that I realized that he really is beginning to understand Spanish.

2. Last night we had a group of Norweigan Salvationists visit the corps, simply just to take a tour. They were staying out at the camp for a retreat, and just wanted to stop by. It is always fun to get to meet other Salvationists. (For non Salvation Army readers, it's hard to explain....) Bram was eager to show them around the building and even more eager to take them to "his office" (the room where all the toys are kept).

3. I have been in a "comfort food" mode. I made chicken and rice soup, beef stew (that turned out more like beef/vegetable soup). The only down side here is that there are no soft, yeasty we had to settle for torn, day old bread.

3 1/2. Bramwell is on his way to being potty trained!!!!!!!! We have adopted the popular Spanish system of potty training (aka: naked). It's working so far. I think the biggest factor of encouragement was that he wants to be like Dash from "Incredibles" and we convinced him that Dash uses the potty not a diaper....who knew bathroom usage could be so exciting!?

4. I have nearly memorized an entire childhood Valenciano song. Each Friday we visit the state run nursing home and sing a mix of old Spanish church choruses and childhood songs (ala Mary Had A Little Lamb, if we were in the States). The childhood songs are primarily in the local language, so I have no idea what I'm singing about but I am proud to have been able to sing Tio Pep (hear it here) and his adventure.

5. As I was preparing for the Sunday Spanish service, I was narrowing down what passage to speak from. We have been looking at what the Bible says about how to 'find' God's will. (I am very thankful for my Thompson Chain Reference Bible!) So, I decided upon a passage out of James and just felt God reach out and speak to me:

Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” Otherwise you are boasting about your own plans, and all such boasting is evil. Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it. James 4:13 - 15, NLT

We are called simply to do that which God has asked us to. Not to put a constraint on how, when, how long. We simply do until God gives us something new to do. God has placed my family here in Denia, and here we will stay until God calls us somewhere else. God has given me toddlers to love and raise and so I will do it because that's His plan right now. God has ordered my life for His glory and His Kingdom's benefit. May I never boast that my plan worked out. And may I always remember, when I am confident in the will of God for a specific part of my life, it is a sin to not comply....hmmmm.....things to think about

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Quiet! Quiet! Quiet!

My life is anything but quiet. And apparently that theme has been a strong "blog" issue of late. Right now, I am sitting on the bed of my 2 year old (ensuring he stays in bed) who is trying to "sing" through breathing through his nose with force, my 18 month old is sitting up chattering away desperate to get my attention so that he'll have an audience. And it's bed time. A time when life should be quiet.

With all this talk of quiet time it has caused me to take notice of how un-quiet my life is. Now, as I understand it, it is a side effect of having young children. I never realized until after having the boys how much I enjoyed moments of silence. So much so, that if it finally does get quiet I get irritated if the phone rings or my husband even asks me a simple question. I would love to have some "quiet time" but I probably would use it to read a book without being interrupted. seems such a 'far away' concept at this point. If I could keep the two year old from 'talking' at a low level scream, and get the 18 month old to actually take a nap maybe, just maybe I might encounter a moment...

Saturday, 18 October 2008

I hate being sick....

I hate being sick. (Now, granted does anyone ever really enjoy being sick? If they do, that's a clear sign of some greater issue...) Anyways, when you're sick, minor annoyances become amazingly huge issues that you are willing to burst into tears over for no apparent reason.

I finally caught my share of the stomach flu making it's way up the Spanish coast. 2 days in bed, 5 pounds, and a weakened appetite later, I think I'm starting to improve....

At some point in my old age, I have developed a sensory overload issue. I'm not sure when it started, but ask my husband and he will verify that I can't handle lots of various noises. The issue even caused me to seek my own office rather than share with my noisy husband at our last church appointment. It makes me incredibly rattled. Two toddlers don't help, because they are accompanied by constant loud noise, muffling out all other noises, or simply joining in. This morning taking into account the loudness of our building (there is a group of teens who seem to only own 1 CD and relish playing it loud enough for everyone in the building to enjoy :) ), the running and "dinasour stomping" of my boys, the off kilter washing machine during the spin cycle, the neighbor's TV, the pounding as the neighbors across the hall remodel their kitchen, and the naueseating smell of drying seaweed permeating my apartment...I had to get out!

As we loaded up into the van, I didn't care where we went, I just wanted it to be quiet and not smell like seaweed. We ended up in a town (Jalon, if your mapping our travels) about 30 minutes away in a valley between 2 of the mountains. They had a long flea market spread across a dry riverbed in town. It was nice just to be outside and taking a walk. I did end up buying a huge purple mum for only 5 euros!! And we, of course, bought churros from the churro stand that populate every flea market in the area. It was a nice day to be out. The valley was beautifully green, and cool for the time of year. It thankfully smelled nothing of seaweed. And Bram even enjoyed looking at all the stuff.

Tomorrow we start another week...if you are praying people who happen to read my blog, I could use your prayer support on the issue of our residency. We have to apply in Madrid, due to original paperwork issues. (About a 6 hour drive) The boys have an appointment to begin the paperwork, but Jeff and I have yet to hear anything. I keep reminding myself that if God can handle Pharoah, God can handle residency paperwork in Spain...

Well, I'm off to finish up for tomorrow's Spanish program and head to bed...

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Hear Ye! Hear Ye!: Notorious Missionary Now Becomes Nice Missionary!

I decided to be a "nice mommy" tonight. We made a pizza together. Not just me putting it together while they were running around the kitchen, both boys actually helped!

On Sunday evenings, our church runs a church service in a local hotel. We tried taking the boys to the meeting, but after just 2 tries we quickly learned that 3 church services were just too much for toddlers. So, now Bram, Jonas and I have an evening all to ourselves. I secretly love Sunday evenings with the boys, because it's just as much fun for me as it is for them. We usually do something with play-doh or build train tracks or lego towers, we watch a movie if one is on, and it's bubble bath night! So tonight I decided I would do the good mommy thing and let them put the pizza together. (I vowed to myself I would only correct their 'creation' if it wasn't staying on the pizza dough. I had to make myself leave the pizza the way it was created.)

There has been a flu/cold thing passing its way around our little community. Both the boys have had it already, and I think I'm now struggling through it. No matter how sick they are, I can't turn them down if they just want a hug and a kiss....

I have decided to take tomorrow to stay at home. The house needs cleaning, and I need a rest. So perhaps it'll get clean, but it's entirely likely that the house will be in the same state it is now at the end of the day tomorrow.

Question: What do you do to take care of yourself (mentally/spiritually)? I was reading a preview of a book ("Absolutely Organized: Moms Guide to a No Stress Schedule & Clutter Free Home: A Mom's Guide to a No-stress Schedule and Clutter Free-home " by Debbie Lillard) off of Amazon UK website. And in the page you could read she suggests that most moms begin the day by dressing and feeding children, running them to school, etc...that they take no time to prepare themselves for the day. She said that you could have a better day and feel less frazzled if you just get up 30 minutes before the house's earliest riser to take some time for seems like a nice idea, but is it realistic? Just wondering what some other moms do to ensure they take care of themselves...

Thursday, 9 October 2008

One Windy City to the next...

It's raining again. This time it's accompanied by really strong wind. The kind of wind that is bending down palm trees. Along with the rain comes flickering electricity...the lights have been flickering on and off all evening. It's enough to send an 18 month old into hysterics when his bath time goes all dark. Bram thought it was funny. (Well, he probably thought Jonas' freak out was funnier than the dark bathroom.)

It was a local holiday today, so there was no pre-school today. The boys accompanied us to brass band practice at a church member's home. (We've been having the church band practice at different members' homes in order to secretly visit with them, have tea, and see the inside of where the people live.) Bram & Jonas were excited to find legos and various bits and pieces of toys waiting for them, not to mention enough "biscuits" (that's British for cookies) to last them the morning. The gentleman (his wife plays in the band) even told me to go ahead and play with the band and he would gladly play with the boys. Bram has been talking about the lego jet airplane they made all day.

Tonight when the lights turned off, I was greeted in the dark by the question of "Why did the lights go off?" (Bram is a never ending stream of "Why" "How" "What does that mean" "What's it sound like in Spanish") So I said "Well, God decided to turn them off." And then I felt bad, like I should give a better explanation "Well, God wanted to show us that He is in control. So, He turned the lights off." "But I don't have to be afraid when the lights are off?" "No, Bram, 'cause we have Jesus with us." "Where? Up there?" "Um, well, He lives with us. He's with us all the time. He's in our hearts.".... Now, I realized at that point I was digging myself into a hole that might be theologically over the 2 year olds head. Why didn't I just say Because???....So suddenly the lights flashed back on, and Bram goes "Hey! He turned them back on!" Problem solved.

And now, I have a chorus from the back of The Salvation Army Songbook stuck in my head:
If Jesus goes with me I'll go anywhere
It's heaven to me whereever I be
If He is there
I count it a privilege here
His cross to bear
If Jesus goes with me I'll go anywhere

Hear it here Cyber Hymnal

Sunday, 5 October 2008

This is what happens when you bake a Chicago created pound cake recipe at sea level.

The eruption actually happened on both sides of the pan. After it cooled, we cut the pan and cake out of the explosion and still carried it to coffee fellowship the next day.

Better luck next time.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Waiting for the gas man...

Everything 'hot' runs on butane gas tanks here, so after 2 cold showers in a row, we decided perhaps the tanks needed replacing. So, I have a few extra minutes thanks to the Spainard understanding of making an appointment. (There is a 2 hour window around the time you were told.)

I've been reading "A New Kind of Christian" by Brian McLaren. (I am trying to make myself read a Christian 'development' book before getting sucked back into my never-ending Liz Curtiss Higgs Scottish series...) Anyways, the book is all about defining post-modern Christianity. (Think "Shack" meets "Velvet Elvis", and that's the style of book.) It's creating quite a bit of thinking on my part. Perhaps that's the point?

Yesterday a homeless-by-choice man stopped by the church building just in search of a Bible. After I got him one, he started talking about how Jesus was radical, challenging the status quo, etc, etc. He then started in about how he didn't like organized religion, etc. And that he was a radical like Jesus. All in all, I think he's just revolting against responsibility, and wanted to use Jesus as a support for his decisions to ignore laws....I digress....

My conversation with him, coupled with my readings, got me thinking: I think I am more postmodern in my view of Christianity. Less importance placed on the 'organization' and definite emphasis on the relationship.....anyways, I'm still working through the definition, and I'm only half way through the book...