Wednesday, 28 January 2009

And he huffed, and he puffed...

This is the neighbor's yard. This neighbor only comes to their place here in Denia during the summer months. They are going to be very upset when they find this rotting pine tree covering the length of their yard area...

Spain had some incredible wind/storms this past weekend. In Barcelona 4 children died when a football (soccer) arena collapsed on them. There was a fire that engulfed an entire apartment complex when a power line pole was knocked over in the wind. I think the death toll was up to 12 people last I heard.

Our neighbors lost a huge chunk of their brick wall, so there is nothing between her washing machine and falling into the courtyard 4 stories below. There are broken lamp posts, twisted bill boards, and downed trees all over our little section of the Mediterranean. Thankfully our apartment and church building are unharmed...we didn't even lose any clothes off the line.

Some positive things in our past few days:

1. Bram is loving school! (He must have told me the story of the three little pigs about 40 times.) And his uniforms finally came in!


2. The sunshine has returned to the coast, so our clothes will finally dry in a decent amount of time.

3. I finally got around to reading the book my mother-in-law sent (Deep in the Heart of Trouble) and I'm lovin' it!

4. We have family coming to visit in a few weeks!!

Thursday, 22 January 2009

We're done...for a year!


It's been quite the process to become residents. With government offices, each with a seperate set of requirements, a good lawyer, a good God, and an insane amount of luck...we are now legal residents of Spain


Here's the process:






and yesterday we recieved our cards here in town! After we dropped off our final paperwork at the Office of Foreigners in early December, we were told to return in about month and a half to check on the status of the cards. Most people warned that they really meant about 2 months or longer, so checking yesterday was a long shot. When the guard informed me that all 4 cards had arrived, I nearly hugged him!


I have been trying to take the stance that these government officials are really just trying to do their job, and they've been dealing with people yelling at them all day, they don't need me to yell at them. I'm trying to use it as a moment to brighten their day by being extra polite...sometimes I got the opportunity to "brighten" their day multiple days in a row.


So, anyways yesterday was a great day in the Carr Chronicles! We're legal! We have the card to prove it! And we only have to start this process again in October...

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

This Is the Day

Today in the hardware store a gentleman stopped in his tracks, turned around and called down the aisle “Did I hear an American accent?”

“Um….yes.”

:::waiting to hear the next question “I once visited New York/Hollywood/Disneyland/famous American icon that I’ve never been to. Where are you from?”::::

“Well, congratulations!”

“Um….thank you?”

“Today’s the big day! Today’s the day you guys change history! This is a big day for America. So, congratulations! The world is proud of you!”

“Um…thank you.”

I know I’ve posted about this issue before. Today is the day of change. Whether or not you voted for the current president does not impact the momentous, history changing occasion of today. Our children will truly believe that you can be anything you want, no matter who you are.

We’ve been watching CNN since we got home this afternoon, and watching the ticking clock counting down until the inauguration event. I ‘teared’ up watching the interviews. One woman said that she had been waiting on the Washington Mall, a mile away from the actual event, not even going to get a glimpse of the new president, but said she just had to be there! “This is a day that will be in the world’s history books! Our children and grandchildren will forever be changed because of this.” I was just overcome with the emotional impact of this inauguration of this president. This really is a day that the world will remember.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

A Picture Tag

So, here's the fourth picture from the fourth file of "My Pictures" file on my computer.

This picture was taken at the infamous "Bean" in dowtown Chicago. We were still waiting on the boys visas to come through, and were getting antsy about their delay. Jeff and I had recieved our visas 6 weeks prior to this picture.


The Spanish government had informed Madrid headquarters that they had never recieved the applications and that we should go check on them. So I put on my uniform (you always seem more important than you really are in uniform) and headed out to the Spanish Consulate. The gentleman at the consulate checked and verified that the applications had been sent, and the suggested that we could travel to Spain sans the visas and then return for them later. (Which created the huge residency ordeal! For the whole story read my post on the trip to Madrid to finish the residency: Good News )


Jeff and the boys walked around the area by the Spanish Consulate while I waded through the beaucratic paperwork stuff. This pic was taken when I came down with the "good news" and we spent the rest of the afternoon 'celebrating' in downtown Chicago (I changed out of the uniform later).

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Rise and Shine, Sweetheart

I remember when Karen came to speak to my MOPS group about being an Irritable Mother, perhaps that's why this lesson sticks out because that's what I am.
I confess I am a cranky mommy.

The boys have been coming into our room with toys blaring (Bless all you purchasers of loud toys for children not your own) every morning at precisely 6:30AM, sometimes a tad earlier but never later.... I don't know about you, but I HATE beginning my day this way. I like to wake up of my own accord. I could get up at 6:30 and be a completely pleasant person for the remainder of the day, but for some reason if I am bonked on the head by Spiderman's motorcycle or have Thomas's horn blown in my ear I tend to lose my composure for the remainder of the day.

If I am woken up, I'm crabby for pretty much the whole day, and then everyone suffers. If I get up (same time frame) on my own, I'm relatively normal. What is a girl to do?

Options:

1. go to bed at a decent hour and stop watching good TV shows (prime time starts at 10pm!)....ok, even mediocre television...side bar: I keep watching the "Hormiguero" show here in Spain, I have no idea what he's talking about most of the time...but the singing ant puppets make me laugh...

2. I could get up earlier than the boys.............um..............but 6:30 is my early.....

Ok, so I'm out of ideas....I think I'll read that book again....

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Dis-cour-age-ment (di-skur-ij-muhnt)

I've been developing a theory (we'll call it that for now) over the past few days/weeks. I am finding that the 'enemy' uses discouragement and doubt most often as weapons against children of the Most High God. (See my beginning thoughts on this here.)

My philosophy continues to be confirmed as I talk with various people going through personal and interpersonal struggles. Someone says or does something and thus begins the "discouragement tumble". The tumble into a pit where you feel like everything is hopeless, there's no possibilities, no where to turn, no one likes you, everyone hates you, might as well go eat worms...

It's not just the "big" things that can be used in the arsenal of D & D, little things work just as well. For example: potty training relapses (just when you think you're home free...), new school struggles, passing comments meant to negatively impact a fledgling ministry, sick children, not enough sleep, a blog post that you have to redo because the computer went on strike...I could keep going... But as long as there can be a small hit, a tiny strike, an intsy wintsy bitty bit of doubt and discouragement creep in...the whole tower of dominoes will come tumbling down...

As I was looking up some Scripture to share with someone struggling with discouragement, I came across this:

I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord! Psalm 27: 13 - 14

D & D are mighty weapons UNLESS you know the Truth. D & D have no power on those who will choose to wait and see the goodness of the Lord. I want to be the person who believes that I will see the goodness of the Lord no matter what happens. My weapon is hope. I have hope that tomorrow will be better.

May I be the one who chooses to not lose heart in the face of D & D.......and I will have the victory.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday at Truth 4 the Journey

Thankful Thursday! Yay! Check out the others here. Truth for the Journey I do enjoy the reminder to stop and let the "world" know what it is God has blessed us with from the little things to the great...

1. I am thankful for a great school system for Bramwell. He seems to really be enjoying himself, and as the days go by I'm sure I'll be less nervous for him. He walked into the class today and didn't even look back, yesterday they showed him a train set and I might as well have disappeared. Apparently, I'm the only one with hangups about him going to school.

2. I am thankful for all the new possibilities in our ministry. We have recently changed to having our language specific services on seperate days, rather than one meeting right after another. I am really excited about all the good things that could come from this. Of course there are moments when it's seems very lonely on the "front lines"...but we have been promised the victory!

3. I am thankful for Kinder chocolate. It's apparently a chocolate that's not really available in the States, bit it's incredibly cheap here and incredibly good!

4. I am thankful for all the Christmas cards we recieved. We have taped the cards onto the wall above our dinner table and the boys and I have been talking about how these are all the people that love our family. I still don't have the desire to take them down yet.

5. I'm thankful for the snow on the mountain. It's been rather cold the past couple of days and with the rain today there is visible snow on the mountain. It's just a beautiful reminder of an amazing Creator.

Monday, 5 January 2009

Los Reyes Magos

Two posts in one day....woohoo!

We decided to keep the boys out late and see the Denia Three Kings Day parade! The parade consists of the kings docking at port, parading down the main street, throwing candy, a procession to see Mary and Jesus, and ends with more candy from the town hall building. And tonight little Spanish children will rush home to leave out their shoes in hopes that the kings will leave them gifts overnight!

It was a lot of fun! Here's a video the pics we took:


video

(Music: God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen & We Three Kings by Barenaked Ladies)

Serious Mommy Issues

Bramwell, my 3 year old, starts school on Wednesday. You read that right, school. Not day care, but school. When we assessed our family situation in regards to overseas ministry we never thought that we'd have to even think about school until possibly a second term (you sign up in 3 year increments).

So it was a "mad dash", well, not exactly mad dash...anyways, we spent the first couple of months trying to sort out the school situation for Bramwell. We looked into local "escuelas de infancia", basically "baby schools". They're not quite school, but they do actual lessons, etc. We thought it would be the best option in order for the boys to learn operating Spanish so they could join school. Nearly everyone I approached told me Bram was too old for their program, and they couldn't take him.

So, we tried local schools. There is a private school taught by the local Spanish Baptist church, but they have a 3-5 year waiting list. (The "Missionary Card" didn't even help bump us up...) I then opted to look into local public school, but everything is taught in the local language of Valenciano. A language I don't understand at all. So if there were to be a problem at school?? He needed help with his homework?? I couldn't even get pamphlets about their programs in Spanish (even though it's the law!)...back to square one.

So then we heard about a private Spanish school system in the next town over. They are a British run school that teaches a Spanish cirriculuum. Bram will begin there on Wednesday! He'll be taught in both Spanish and English, with Valenciano language classes in the upper grades. He goes for a full day, wears an absolutely adorable uniform (there's a tie and everything), and rides a coach bus. I'm still nervous about the bus...I can tell that the teachers at the school hear the same nervous questions from every mother, they're answers are very rehearsed...

And now, it's down to the wire, the last day and a half that I have Bramwell the majority of the day. Honestly, it's liberating in a sense, but at the same time heart wrenching. My baby boy isn't a baby anymore. He's entering the world of school....away from me....with new friends I may never know............I'm scared.......

Thursday, 1 January 2009

New Year's Resolutions


We have experienced our first New Year in Spain. We watched the clock chime in Madrid, watched as people ate their "uvas de suerte" ('lucky grapes': Spainards eat a grape for each chime of the clock at midnight). It was a relatively quite night...until midnight. At the stroke of 12, some neighbors in our building began screaming, beating drums, etc. I consoled myself by believing that in a couple hours it would all stop. The music, screaming and drums did not stop until well AFTER midnight! All four of us were in our bed (not by my choice) and no one was sleeping. It made for a lovely and friendly Carr family on New Year's Day... I considered knocking on the neighbor's door at 10:00 am (when the music finally turned off) and just standing there with my howling, melt down toddlers and thanking them for the lovely party.


We did hold a New Year's Eve service...at 6 pm. We have toddlers, we don't go out after midnight.


We used Isaiah 43:18-19 as our theme:


Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.



I used a video clip of the song "Seasons of Love" from "Rent". (I got lucky and found a Youtube video with Spanish subtitles!) In 2009 I have 525,600 minutes. I have 525,600 chances to see God at work. The part of the verse that struck my attention was that God implies that His new thing WILL happen, we just have to pay attention if we want to be a part of it. God is, always was, and always will be at work, it's just a matter if I'm 'perceiving the stream'. If I want to see the new thing, I just need to look for God.


We have challenged our congregation to take the next 180 days and give God a chance to "turn their life around". To take a chance to see God at work. We are participating in a 180 day Bible reading plan. I realized that in my own life I can come up with a million excuses for why I don't have enough time to do this, but I have plenty of time to facebook, blog, blog hop, Youtube video watch, etc. So, in order to remove some of those excuses, I'm creating a blog of my notes on the daily readings. I'm going to actively seek out the 'way in the desert' this year. (If you're interested in following along in my journey of 'turning it around', click here.)


So, Happy New Year! May you 'perceive the stream' in 2009!