Saturday, 29 November 2008

Dia de Accion de Gracias

Clean up from a Thanksgiving extravaganza looks the same no matter where you. Or, so I learned.

I'm taking advantage of a quiet moment. All the boys (Jeff included) are taking naps, I've got a glass of water, some left over tuna/curry/corn appetizers (taste better than they sound), and the butane heater running.

Yesterday we had a few people over from our congregation to join us in celebrating Thanksgiving. I tried to explain to my husband that it's just not a Thanksgiving without a bunch of other people with you. SO we drove 45 minutes to find an English butcher with a turkey breast last minute (we paid 14 euros a kilo (about $9 or so a pound) but it was worth it to celebrate with real turkey). I made all the "fixin's"! It was the first time that I have made a Thanksgiving meal on my own, and beside the biscuit mishap, everything came out really well! I reminded my family that these "from scratch" Thanksgivings will all too soon disappear once we live in a country that has the essentials in a can...

It was really nice to get to celebrate. It is also my first major holiday away from any sort of traditional family. It was wonderful how we were able to create new "family members" and laugh and share stories....just as if we had been in the States. One doesn't realize how important these sorts of things are until they are no longer an option. It was important to me that we have some sort of celebration (I had been an emotional wreck about it all week). I don't want to lose those traditions that are a part of who we are, a part of our American culture. And I hope, in the same breath, that we can adopt new traditions (like Los Reyes Magos (3 Kings)) to bring into our family's culture.

This year I am most thankful for:
1. ...being able to see a Salvation Army church grow and flourish, just as God created it to do. (We love you, Waukegan)
2. friends, extensions of our family.
3. ...good food.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

15 Things

I wasn't tagged, but I'm kind of at a loss at a good post. So I thought I'd just join the fun.

Fifteen Things About Me, I'm not afraid to admit:

1. I'll sneak into my boys rooms while they're sleeping, give them kisses, and remind myself why we keep them. (Especially since bed time can be a nightmare.)

2. I am a fanatic about not eating the same meal too many times in a row. I'm always trying new recipes in order to keep our menu changing. I'm pretty sure my husband would just wish I'd stick to a few good ones.

3. I hate meatloaf, but will sometimes suck it up and make it because Jeff loves it.

4. I never finished college. I went to 2 different schools, and then realized I should just do what God had been calling me to do since I started: prepare myself to be a Salvation Army officer. So, I quit school and entered training (Salvation Army seminary) and felt a peace unlike any other.

5. I am really picky about pantyhose. I wear a uniform that requires off black pantyhose on a daily basis. But I REFUSE to wear pantyhose that get nicks too easy in them. I will only buy the $4/pair kind. I even bought a huge amount to bring to Spain with me.

6. I don't really know my biological father.

7. I really loved MOPS, and if I had stayed in the States I would have gladly served on their leadership team like they had asked. I was really sad that there are no MOPS in Spain.

8. I love coffee. Thank you, God, that I moved to a country where coffee is a national past time.

9. I have created a system in my head for how I decide to purchase something (non-necessities). I will look at it, then walk away, then come back, then walk away, if I decide to come back a third time then I will buy it. It's sad because I know that I have that tendency and even if I know I'm going to come back, I will still go through the entire ritual.

10. I spent the last week in Madrid at a conference for Salvation Army officers of Spain. I was bored most of the time because it was primarily about administration, but felt guilty because I needed to keep paying complete attention so I could tell Jeff what it was about later.

11. I had to leave my boys with a French speaking Swiss woman from our congregation that speaks Spanish.

12. I find it annoying that Bramwell now calls me "mama" (read with a French accent).

13. I hate doing laundry or dishes. Typically I don't do them, Jeff does. But then when he gets started, I feel incredibly guilty because I somehow think that I should be doing those things.

14. I really love Thanksgiving, and am anticipating that this might be a rough weekend because there is no Thanksgiving here. I can't even find a whole turkey (I found turkey legs...ewww.). Hopefully we'll be able to get together with some other Americans and have some pumpkin pie.

15. I often will make up the word in Spanish if I don't know it. I will simply say the English word with a Spanish accent. It works about 50% of the time.....

Monday, 17 November 2008

Whirling Dervish :)

The past week has been fun filled and jam packed. Strategic planning sessions, Solidaria de Marina Alta, local theatre ticket sales, and 18 month vaccinations!

Saturday, we attended a conference in Valencia in order to network with other Evangelical social service entities in the Valencian community (our area in Spain). At first, I was worried that we had simply made the mistake to come to a day long sales pitch for this particular group. BUT we met a woman (An American missionaries daughter) who is on the town council in our town and works with Stop the Traffik. I have been praying for an opportunity to get involved in some ministry dealing with the numerous prostitutes in our surrounding area. There is a road that we pass that has a young girl "posted" outside an orange grove entrance about every 20 to 30 feet or was definitely a divine opportunity to meet this woman! When I found out that she was working directly with this issue in our same community, I quickly asked how I could help! I am so excited that God has provided an opportunity to DO SOMETHING.... so we have a meeting with her next week!

A long while ago at a MOPS meeting I learned a valuable lesson of carrying Scripture in my pocket. I didn't necessarily start doing it right away, but I've tried....anyways, I typically type out the Scripture readings and hand them to the people reading on Sunday morning (because they don't always bring their Bibles...) Apparently I had tucked a verse away into my tunic (Salvation Army uniform jacket (explanation for non Salvationist readers)) pocket, which made its way to my purse pocket, which then made its way to my hand this morning as I wrote down cloth measurments for a banner I'm making (quite the traveling verse)...the verse was exactly what I needed to read after a crazy week, an upcoming week of a conference 6 hours away with my boys in someone else's care:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

God is so good.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

A Kind Word

As pastors, Sunday is the hardest day of the week. That may be shocking. It's the day when everything seems to be pulling apart at the seams. Your kids don't listen. Your pantyhose ruin consistently. You can't find the paper you needed, and laid out the night before so that this wouldn't happen. You and your spouse can't agree on even simple things, like banana yogurt or strawberry. All in all it's a tough day, well, at least it is in our household.

I know that this is the enemy's tactic of warfare. If you are distracted, you are of no good to the Kingdom. So, one is to expect a certain amount of struggle and confrontation when approaching Kingdom building events (ie: corporate worship).

So, next Sunday take a moment to find your pastor and/or their family members and offer some encouragement. Because the more I "investigate" the more I find that this is a reoccuring phenomenon in many pastoral households. Tell them they're doing a great job. Take them to lunch. Bring them a baked good. (Someone made us bread pudding's the little things!) Distract their kids for a second while they engage in a conversation.

Remember, we're all in this together.

Friday, 7 November 2008


It's Bram's birthday today! He turns 3 at 4:30 Central time....or is that Spain time.....

Anyways we're celebrating the whole day! Bram opened a special gift from Grandma Sandy this morning at breakfast. I made (in our new essential Spain kitchen appliance: deep fryer) churros for breakfast with warm chocolate milk. Jonas and I sang Bram which he was utterly thrilled.

I brought cake into the pre-school for Bram, and when we picked him up he was wearing the birthday crown. He was also singing some song about Samba the Elephant, but I couldn't quite make out the words. When he sings in Spanish he mumbles all the words but gets the general tune down..

Today, after our weekly visit to the nursing home, we will be having chicken nuggets, french fries, carrot sticks, and homemade pickles (all of Bram's favorites) followed by a cake. It took me forever to find cake batter (it comes pre mixed in a bag you just pour into your pan. my choices were: chocolate chip or lemon) and I also attempted home made icing sans powdered sugar. (doesn't exist here) Jeff says the icing is good....but I'm skeptical about its merit. I'm sure Bram will love it regardless.

So here's to birthdays in a land far away!

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Not to us, but to Your Name

Bram's birthday is on Friday. My baby is going to be 3. Each year as we give him his cake, we remind him and ourselves that we're celebrating because we managed to keep him alive another year! Somedays that's more of a feat than others.

We met with a local community group called "Solidaria de Denia" this morning. It is our hope to find out more information regarding the needs of our community before we can really make any kind of decision as to what kinds of programs The Salvation Army should be offering. We are seeking for the best ways to engage our community and become a part of it, rather than simply a spectator. Through the community group we'll be able to network with other community agencies also serving the needs of our town.

We have been diligently working on clearing out rooms in our building in order to assess what resources we have at our disposal, make room for programs, as well as throw away garbage. (I found juice boxes over 2 years old!) As we go through the rooms we find all kinds of books, music, games, and even a tent. It at least helps in deciding what kind of items could be used for other things.

I have been reading Brian McClaren's "A New Kind of Christian" series (I highly recommend it!). The second book speaks a lot about creation and God's story as it is woven through time and the events of history as well as our present day. It inspired me to read through the book of Genesis (bit by it goes with toddlers who get up at 5:00 am (stupid time change) ). Yesterday I read the portion about the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11). The part that stuck out to me about the story this time was the reason God decides to confuse the language:

But the Lord came down to look at the city and the tower the people were building. “Look!” he said. “The people are united, and they all speak the same language. After this, nothing they set out to do will be impossible for them! (vs. 5 - 6)

Well, I always thought being united was a good thing? So I decided to keep reading the story for some clue as to why it was not a good thing now. And it hit me! Look at these verses:

Then they said, “Come, let’s build a great city for ourselves with a tower that reaches into the sky. This will make us famous and keep us from being scattered all over the world.” (vs. 4)

Unity is a good thing. It makes you unstoppable. (God says so in verse 6.) The problem is these people were doing it all for their own consideration of God. So God scatters them over the world to basically show them Who's in control.

So it leads me to think of the new page turned in our country's (US) history last night. It doesn't matter who's president, it matter who's God. Christians could continue to argue of what the outcome of the election means, or they can choose to focus on God and change the world together. It makes me ask myself, am I seeking glory of God in all my personal endeavours? Or am I focused on how this is going to affect me and me only?......

Tuesday, 4 November 2008


I'm hesitant to post something of this nature, but I want to record my "feelings" before the event is finished. Because in my personal opinion the end result is not terribly important, in the sense that they seem to say the same thing on large issues via their voting records, etc (depending on what you determine to be the issues) regardless of what is said by campaign trails or commercials (which I didn't see in Spain anyways). (err.....I hesitated to leave that statement backlash, I hope...I understand that there are some issues that are very important to people on which the candidates say very different things.....anyways, back to what I'm bloggin' about....sorry.....)

This is a monumental, historical event for the people of the United States. From the election onward little girls and boys (all, not just a specific group) will have an example that says "Yes! You REALLY CAN be president of the United States!!! It doesn't matter what you look like, your gender, or anything superficial!!" To me that's the most important aspect of this never-ending campaign. It's like our culture is turning a corner, or something! We're growing up!

So whatever the outcome of tonight's final votes ( I had to send mine in a month ago), this historic moment (as I steal wording from CNN international...) is exciting for me regardless of who becomes president!

Whoever you're backing be sure and cast your vote! Be a part of history!