Category Archives: family

In Sickness and in Health? (When Marriage Vows Are Challenged)

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photo credit below

There are factors that put a strain on marriage. Some are internal ones like pride, selfishness, bitterness, unforgiveness, etc., while others are external ones like finances, (un)employment, sickness, etc. (Both internal and external ones can or do occur mutually!)

Many have used the traditional vow in their marriage ceremony:

“I, (________), take you (__________), to be my lawfully wedded (wife/husband), to have and behold from this day on, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; until death do us part.”

The negative part of each of those vows (worse, poorer, sickness) is hardly considered at the altar, for typically a couple’s dreams are floating on their present state of mind and emotion.

But what happens when that couple finds themselves in an unplanned storm of worse, poorer, or sickness? Suddenly the vows take on new weight. And for some, it is overwhelming.

Each one of those factors deserve attention, and can be addressed extensively, but my focus today is on the “in sickness and in health” part of the vow.

The marriage commitment is put to the test when a spouse becomes seriously ill, diagnosed with a disease, or develops an incurable condition. Many pass the test and their love and commitment grow stronger, while for others it seems to be the beginning of the end of their marriage. (We have walked through this with my husband’s diagnosis of epilepsy nine years ago.  That valley (everything that occurred as a result  from his first tonic-clonic seizure in another country) shook us, but our commitment to each other and especially MY commitment to him, emerged fortified.)

Worse for a marriage than a spouse becoming ill is when a child is struck with a life-threatening illness or is born with a serious medical condition. From what I have read and been told, it seems that most of those marriages fall under a stress that eventually fractures the union entirely. (If you know of any studies in this area, please leave a comment. I’d be curious to see factual statistics.)

This is heartbreaking on so many levels.

I said most, not all. In the book Between Heaven and Healing, author and pastor’s wife Melanie Boulis shares the story of their daughter’s diagnosis and battle with cancer, and how it affected their marriage:

“Kevin and I were starting to fight a lot over Danielle’s care. The stress was building and we were taking it out on each other. The tension was awful. Caring for Danielle became a 24-hour a day job.”

Even spiritual leaders are not exempt from the stress and strain of this type of battle. The good news is that the Boulis’ passed through that storm, and are still together. The sad news is that their daughter passed away.

A friend who is walking through a difficult time with her sick child wrote me, upon my request, with the top ten ways to pray for parents of seriously ill children. The first request on the list was for the marriage:

“Most couples I know from the hospital are divorcing or their marriage is shaking badly. I would ask for prayer for the marriage, and time for couples to continue showing their love. Before the child, you are a couple; but when you have a sick child you forget that… and if the child dies there’s not much to rescue if the couple didn’t have time for each other.”

I think it’s both brave and wise of her to share that, and to make it the top prayer request. If you know of a family in this situation, would you pause momentarily and pray for their marriage? Also feel free to leave a comment below with the names and current situation of a family with an ill child, so that we can pray for them as well.

 

Photo credit:
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Time & Presence = Priceless Gifts

Half our family left the nest years ago; we were six, now we are three.

Last month, one came by train from the east, another by plane from the west. The oldest one currently lives fifteen minutes away.

The joy of spending time with them was immeasurable. Evidence of their presence was everywhere…

Michael’s keys dropped on the table as he came in…

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Joey’s tradition of doing the yearly, large crossword puzzle…

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And Jon gently strumming his guitar and singing softly…

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They came for Christmas, but not merely for the gifts. The gift of presence was worth more than the presents.

Christmas was special because we spent time with each other, together as a family.

They’ve all gone back now, each one to their own life. I miss them.

I miss the keys on the table, the strum of the guitar, and the, “hey, what’s a six letter word for…?” called out to anyone nearby.

They are busy about their lives (as they should be!) yet I wish they’d be back sitting around our table.

This, I realise, is how God feels about me, too. He loves when I spend time with him, at his table. Even when I am busy about my life, his Spirit is with me, but what he especially longs for are the times spent wholly in his presence, when I make the effort to stop and be with him.

When I am confused, time in his presence gives me clarity; when I’m discouraged, he knows it and lifts my spirits during quiet moments with him. Like David, I say,

“You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” (Psalms 16:11)

This is so, because I am his child; he is my heavenly Father. I have found – and keep finding –  refreshing for my soul in his presence.

You can too. His presence is a priceless gift – if you take the time.

“Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” (Acts 3:19)

I Grieved a Hero I Loved (but never knew)

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Heroes Square, Budapest, Hungary

Standing in the warming sun, I leaned against the railing in the center of Hősök Tere (Heroes Square), Budapest, camera in hand. My interest was in the cenotaph (a memorial similar to the tomb of the unknown soldier) just a few feet away.

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Cenotaph in Heroes Square

“To the memory of the heroes who gave their lives for the freedom of our people and our national independence.”

Around me, tourists began arriving by the hundreds, covering the vast square in kaleidoscopic pattern – some in large groups led by guides with microphone in hand and speaker slung around their shoulder, some walking hand in hand with their sweetheart, and others like us, a group of foreigners admiring our surroundings and snapping photos, independently of one another.

It was there, in the middle of a crowd and of my desire to capture memories that a wave of grief suddenly and surprisingly washed through me for a hero I loved, but never knew.

Karl and Ilona Stadler
Karl and Ilona Stadler – my grandparents.

That hero was my grandfather.

He was not a soldier; he was a border patrol official in charge of the trains passing through the town of Hegyeshalom, on the Austrian border.

My grandfather gave his life for helping others escape to freedom from the Communist oppression of Hungary in the 1950’s.

And for the first time in my life, standing in front of the heroes memorial, I cried for him.

I cried for my loss of never hearing his voice or looking into his eyes, for never sitting on his lap or hearing him laugh, for never being held in his arms or smelling his cologne.

I cried also for my grandmother, and for my mother and her sisters.

I cried for the painful and personal hell through which they each lived suffered and survived: the separation, the imprisonment, the beatings, the fears that should never have been in their childhood, the loss of their home and family security, their harrowing escape, and their threadbare life in a refugee camp.

My trip to Hungary earlier this month began as a missions trip to help build a church in Szigetszentmiklos. It ended on a mission to re-build my family’s history, find answers to many questions, and document my heritage for my children and their future children.

But mostly, to show how God’s thread of redemption pulled together tattered and torn patches of humanity to create an eternally meandering quilt.

I invite you back for the unfolding story.

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How Do You Pray?

Chess-king

I asked a wise lady, a widowed veteran missionary, a question.  Her answer took me by surprise.

We were sitting, enjoying iced tea, and catching up on each other’s lives when I asked about her kids and grandkids. What followed was an account of pain and difficulty. My heart broke as I listened to the ongoing drama of what some may consider a parents/grandparents worst nightmare. And she no longer had her husband to walk this trail of tears with her.

Knowing her to be a praying woman, I wanted the inside scoop of how such a woman of faith talks to God about this

With solemn sincerity, I asked, “So, how do you pray for your grandchildren?”

I expected to hear the chess-game-strategy prayer: “God I pray you move this person to this spot, get rid of that player, surprise attack another, then corner the enemy with a final check-mate so we win. Amen.” After all, isn’t that how most of us pray? We call the moves that we believe will win us the outcome of healing and wholeness in broken situations.

What I heard, instead, as she fixed her eyes upon me and said with a confidence born  of trials, was, “I pray that they would love the Lord their God with all their heart, with all their soul, and with all their strength; that they would love their neighbor as themselves, and that they would fear God and keep his commands.”

The lump in my throat held me momentarily silent as I pondered the radical perspective she had – radical, but right on. Another needed reminder of the greatest power available to us in prayer: God’s Word, the Truth that supersedes.

With that prayer, she not only embodied the whole of scripture (Matt. 22:37-40*) but also applied the wise preachers words, that everything in life is meaningless except fearing God and keeping what He commanded (Ecclesiastes 12:13**).

With that prayer, she went straight to the eternal, the critical. For what shall it profit our loved ones to have everything work out in this world, and in the end lose their soul?

Is it wrong then to pray for specifics, for things to be worked out in our favor? Not necessarily. God in His infinite kindness, goodness, and mercy has indeed answered many such prayers for us, and I assume for you as well.  However, when my prayers are born with God’s Word at the core, the chaff prayers are blown away and a sense of praying God’s will, which is perfect and lasting, comes into focus.

It’s been some time since this wise woman and I have spoken in person, yet her example speaks to me daily. I pray it does you as well.

*Matthew 22:37-40 “And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And h a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend k all the Law and the Prophets.” ESV

**Ecclesiastes 12:13 “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” ESV

photo credit http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/57/Chess-king.JPG

Laundry Baskets and Books: Our Smuggling Operation

444px-Books_of_the_PastIt was desperation. Pure, unadulterated desperation.

It drove us madly to scheming an international smuggling operation in which we involved our four youngsters.

Neither regret nor remorse are motivating me to come clean now, years later. (Really, I needed something to blog about, and this story was as good as the next.)

However, I may consider this our public confession of our contraband years.

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Books and Fools

It all began shortly after we moved to Chihuahua, Mexico in 1998. We were having a conversation with a local pastor who offered his help with anything we may need to become acclimated.

“Where is the closest library?” I promptly asked, realizing the books there would be in Spanish, not English. I was prepared for the challenge for both myself and our children.

His head turned and his brows furrowed as he asked, “¿Para qué? What do you need a library for?”

Questions like that are cultural clue cards. I took that one, filed it away, and answered matter of factly, “To have books to read at home.”

He snickered. “The libraries here do not loan out books.”

Shock registered on my face. “¿Por qué?

“We have a saying here in Mexico,” he answered,

“…if you loan a book to someone, you are a fool, but if you return a book you borrowed, you are a greater fool.”

If my mother would have been there, she would have told me to close my gaping mouth already, before a bug flies in.

That cultural awareness would prove helpful to me years later in managing a Bible Institute library in southern Mexico. Though it was a lending library limited to only students and staff, the end of the year inventory proved the saying true for some.

In 2004, Mexico City ignored, or perhaps tried to overcome, this particular cultural nuance when they hoped to curb crime and improve literacy by lending 1.5 million books – on the honor system – at subway stations around the city. They stopped the program after having so few riders return the books.

Border Runs

El Paso is due north of Chihuahua City. We would make the five-hour trip through the desert, and the one-hour trip through Ciudad Juarez, often. Sometimes we just needed to hear English, sometimes we simply needed to de-stress. We needed to retrieve our mail, all of it, unopened and unpilfered.

But we especially needed a library. El Paso had public libraries. Those libraries loan books. We could sign books out and take them into Mexico with us. Easy!

Not exactly. There were rules mocking us.

First, the librarians voice, “Fill out this form, ma’am, and return it with a utility bill proving your local residency.”

Then, the sign, “No borrowed items are to be taken into Mexico.”

It was then that the desperation for books, namely to sign them out to have at home in Mexico, overtook us, creating the wonderfully deviant smuggling plot.

A local retired missionary allowed us the use of their home address as our mailing address. Though we didn’t have utility bills, other mail such as credit card statements came in time and were deemed acceptable by the library staff.

Five library cards were issued (the baby didn’t need one yet). We lacked only one thing: a way to carry the amount of books we’d be signing out. Most normal people carry books in hand, or perhaps in a bag. Then again, most normal people don’t go to the library with a family of six to check out 60+ items at a time.

To the nearest Wal-Mart we headed, purchasing the largest plastic laundry basket they had. It was go-time.

Here is where we corrupted our children: we told them not to mention “home” or “Mexico” in the same sentence when we were in the library. And, no!, they could NOT say it in Spanish either, since the majority of El Paso either speaks or understands Spanish.

Each child was told to pick out ten titles, bring them to us for approval, then put them in the big basket. I felt somewhat criminal-minded  when we stood in line to check out and that sign would catch my eye and taunt me, tugging at my conscience as it reminded me I didn’t have permission to smuggle those books out of the country.

“It’s for the niños!” I mentally hissed back, wishing the sign knew I was home-schooling and we were starving, literarily speaking.

It stared back, hard and motionless.

“Okay, it’s for me, too!” I ‘fessed.

Into the back of the SUV my hubby carefully and systematically placed the basket along with the suitcases, ready to cross the border, go through customs and make the long journey home.

The border guards with their rifles showed less hostility over the basket of books than the stupid sign back at the library.

Todo Bien

The end of the story is a happy one.

We enjoyed hundreds of books during those years, the library received back all their loans, we paid any fines we may have incurred, three of my four kids graduated and went to college, the oldest is halfway through graduate school, and I bought a Kindle.

Back for a season in the USA, my hubby, my tween, and I still use laundry baskets and frequent the local library; the baskets, however, now carry laundry and our visits to the library end with either a bag or our arms carrying the numerous titles scattered throughout our rented home.

There are worse crimes than burning smuggling books.  One of them is not reading them.  ~Joseph Brodsky.  (strikeout and italics are mine).

Contentment – a rare commodity

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Today our oldest son turns 24. This post, about him, was written and blogged several years ago, during his first year of college. (He is now into his second year of post-grad studies while serving part time on staff at Harvest Ridge Assembly of God). I felt it deserved to be shared again today, on his birthday:

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We recently chatted with our oldest son and my husband asked him how he was doing. He said he’s doing well, excited about soccer and loves it at college. This, to my mom’s heart, was soothing – and it was about to get better.

My husband, Mr. Philosophical, then asked, “Are you happy with yourself?”

“Well, in some ways, no,” my son answered.

He went on to explain that when it comes to certain areas of life – study, sports, character, etc. – he doesn’t settle for where he’s at but rather pursues improvement. This I can accept. Then he went on and said something that surprised me; something that is rarely heard: contentment.

“The other day I was with the soccer team, and in my head I went through all the guys, including my five best friends, and decided I would rather be me than any of them.”

Really? I thought, my brows furrowing. It took a while for my heart and mind to wrap around those words, for my mind instantly raced through memories, stopping briefly along the way at sundry moments in our life; in his life.

First, my mind flashed to the day we moved him into his college dorm room: he with one box, one suitcase, (those two holding basically everything he owned), plus a few linens and things from Target. Half an hour after our arrival, his roommate boisterously came tumbling in  with nearly a dozen extra large packing boxes filled with room decor, clothes for every season, various new electronic gadgets we’d never heard of, a new mini fridge, and bragging rights about everything his parents went out and bought him those past few days.

I stood there, a serrated pang of guilt cutting deep.

I was sure my son wished he could be in that kids shoes. Less than a year earlier, on the mission field, our lives were turned upside down and we lost almost everything we owned because of a medical emergency that forced us quickly back to the USA. Our son, too, lost so many things that were precious to him. And there was no replacing most of those things – for any of us.

Then my thoughts turned to the fact he has no car and therefore obligated to work in the campus library for minimal pay while his friends have awesome paying jobs at the mall or at busy restaurants, bringing in hundreds of dollars per week.  Their parents bought them cars before going to college. My son has asked if there was anyway we could help pay for a car and insurance, too. “Sorry”, we told him, “there’s no possible way.”

Among the rapid and impromptu thoughts came another one: his new friends don’t get stressed when it comes to break time from college, be it fall break, holiday, or summer vacation. They go “home” and hang with their social circle there, be it church, work, or former high school buddies. Our son has to figure out where he can go – and although his grandparents open their home, bless their heart – once there he really doesn’t have any social life, or again, his own vehicle in which to get around.

Certainly at times like that he must have wished to be like his friends, having grown up in the U.S. and being able to return to the familiar.

So how, I wondered, with less material possessions and a life that’s not the norm, can he say he’d rather be himself? How could he be so content when I feel guilty for not being like the rest of the college parents?

My husband had always told our kids that contentment is a great gift that few ever possess, and that people are drawn to content people. My oldest son concurred with both those statements.

I learned another important lesson from that: I need to not only be content for myself, but also be content on behalf of my kids; I need to quell these female and motherly notions I entertain – these guilty feelings of not having done or given enough.

My son has a rare commodity indeed – contentment. God’s grace has brought him to that place in his life and I pray God’s grace will keep him there. It will take him far in life.

Godliness with contentment is great gain.” I Tim. 6:6

 

Happy Birthday, Michael! We love you and are proud of you!

 

I Repeat: A Few Choice Words for Hubby!

 

My guapo turns 51 today. And I’ve got a few choice words for him!

Taking a few minutes to sit down, now that the carrot cake and apple crisp are done, laundry is underway, and before the house gets a quick go-over, I’m going to repeat myself from last year– with one more thing to say.

Since one of hubby’s love languages is words of affirmation, I chose fifty words last year (when he turned the big 5-0) to tell him exactly what I thought of him, one adjective for every year. I’ll repeat that, with another added to equal his years on earth today.

Mike, you are…

Able, affectionate, amazing, astute, attentive,

benevolent, bona-fide, caring, clever, compassionate,

decent, discerning, doting, encouraging, esoteric,

estimable, friendly, funny, gifted, Godly,

good-natured, handsome, helpful, honorable, intelligent,

introspective, judicious, kind, laudable, meritorious,

neat, neighborly, observant, passionate, perceptive,

perspicacious, philosophical, sagacious, selfless, sensational,

sensitive, sharp, striking, sublime, sympathetic,

terrific, thoughtful, understanding, upright, wise,

…and doggone wonderful!

Yes, one person can be all those things. Maybe not all at once, but…

¡Te amo mi guapo!

 

 

My Mom’s Story – a first draft

Ócsa, Tájház (Hungary)
Hungary (Wikipedia)

 

For Mother’s Day.

Several years ago while briefly visiting in the states, I sat down with my parents and recorded their stories of the trials and tears of living under Stalin’s oppression in Hungary and their eventual escape to the United States.

Two different and frayed threads that ended up tying the knot in Cleveland, Ohio.

The following is a re-post of a free writing exercise I did in my mom’s voice. Free writing has no clarity or eloquence – it’s not supposed to. It is simply words tumbling out without concern for order or correctness. I sat down and let my fingers do the tapping. Forty minutes and 1,000 words later, this is what I ended up with:

“I was little then, don’t remember much. Life passed by so quickly yet slowly. Quick like popping corn because I moved from place to place. Slow because the pain during each stop was intense and seemed as if it would never let up.

When my dad left who knew why? we were little . Mom didn’t say much. She did look very sad for those first few days. Then we woke up one day and she was gone too. My three sisters and I left alone. Who would feed baby Edith? She was only three months old and we didn’t have any baby bottles or milk to give her.

It didn’t take long for word to pass to a relative and they came for us. We were farmed out to four different homes. Most weren’t so bad. I didn’t like being away from my sisters. When would mom return?

That was so long ago. I can’t remember my dad anymore. People ask me about him. I say, “I don’t know”. Because I really don’t. I don’t remember much about him at all. Not his voice, not his touch, not anything.

Mom did come back after a few months. I think three months she was gone. She never talks about those months. Something happened. She was different.

Our life was different. And somehow I knew the Russian soldiers had something to do with it. We were hungry because my mom wasn’t allowed to work anymore. Again we were sent away to different homes. To survive. One place after another.

I hated being separated from my family. Living with a different relative every year was hard. Then I ended up in a foster home. I don’t know why and I can’t remember who. I do remember feeling like Cinderella. Doing the work no one else wanted, since I was the most dispensable. Like sending me down the street to get water several times a day. By then I was 12, but still not very strong and the bucket was so heavy. Every time I opened the large front gate I wondered if I’d be shot, since the Russian soldiers, at times with their tanks rolling down the street, were a bit trigger happy.

I left that place and don’t remember why; a short time later I was back with my mother and my sisters. Then one night we packed up as she kept telling us we had to be very quiet on the trip she was taking us on.

We had to do what she said exactly when she said it. Be quiet. Drop. Don’t move. Run! Drop again.

But I didn’t want to drop because I didn’t want to get muddy. I think it’s a miracle we escaped alive. I was sure the footsteps we heard and sudden flash light shining on us would take my mother away again.

But the voices were kind. We had made it across the field and across the border. We were in Austria. They helped us, sending us to Salzburg.

We lived in a small room in a refugee camp. For two years we lived there –along with thousands of others scattered in the same kind of camps throughout Austria. It was a beautiful country. I remember when I saw the Sound of Music for the first time and recognized the mountains and the tree lined boulevard where the kids were hanging out of the trees in their curtain-clothes.

But for me it was a different kind of beauty. The kind that comes with both fear and contentment. The kind that makes you glad you’re alive but wishes you dead when thinking of soon you’ll have to leave again without knowing where or when.

My mother put our names on many different lists: Costa Rica, Australia, Sweden, the United States. We did finally leave, to a country that sounded strange and distant.

On a plane, my first one. We flew to France, then Ireland, then over the Atlantic Ocean. Our plane lost an engine and we made an emergency landing in Newfoundland. Never heard of such a place in my life. I was cold because it was cold there. We did not have winter clothes. That didn’t matter, we had to get off the plane. At least we had a warm bed to sleep in at the hotel they provided.

From there we ended up in Rochester, New York. United States was the “where” our names fell on the list. A Catholic charity sponsored us and we blindly went. Beggars certainly cannot be choosers. Destiny was not in our own hands. Nothing is when oppressive regimes overtake your country.

Even our dignity was taken. That was one of the things we would have to build again, besides our life.

We stayed only briefly in Rochester. Again I don’t know why. Have you ever been frustrated because you can’t remember things? This is worse than not finding your car keys. This is fragments of a life, lost forever. Or are they buried somewhere? I don’t even know how to find out.

We ended up in Cleveland, Ohio. Many other Hungarians lived there at the time. Perhaps that’s why my mother took us there. To be around like people with like stories and like pain. There’s comfort in communal suffering.

Another start, more houses. Moving moving moving. Would I ever know what it is to again have a home and actually live in it? My life consisted of packing our few belongings, moving, unpacking. Then the cycle would begin anew.

Until I met him. He saw me washing dishes at the restaurant. He tells people it was love at first site of the young, reddish-blonde 16 yr. old bending over the sink with her sleeves rolled up and sweat pouring down her face.

We married a few months later. We must have done something right. Soon it is 50 years; we have five kids, and fourteen grandchildren. I finally had my own home, and when we moved it was because we wanted to, not because we had to.

That’s what I like to remember.”

The serious girl is my mom. This was a propaganda photo, staged to show the world how three sisters and a crowd anticipated visitors at the train depot. In lieu of my mom’s story, the cruelty behind it is jarring.

This draft is skeletal at best. Hours of detail are yet to come.

I will share here some info about my grandfather, Karl Stadler, who left. He was a Hungarian officer, opposed to Communism, who patrolled the passenger train. He was marked even before he began helping others escape. It is believed that he was notified secretly of his pending demise, forcing him to escape to Austria. This was why he left.

One report was given that while walking down a street in Austria, a car pulled up, men jumped out, and grabbed and threw my grandfather in the car. It was the last time anyone saw him alive. A death certificate was seen years later by another relative in Budapest.

The Communists came for my grandmother in the middle of the night. We eventually learned that during her time in prison she was beaten, tortured, and abused in every way as they tried forcing information from her regarding her husband’s activities. Her name was Ilona. 

My mom carries her name.

As do I.

The OB, the Scalpel, and my little Mexicana Rose

During most of my last pregnancy I repeatedly told my OB that I did not want this child delivered by C-Section.

Even so, twelve years ago this week, my little princess (child number four, daughter number one), was pulled into this world. Via caesarean.

We were living in Chihuahua City at that time and as my Mexican friends and neighbors began finding out I was pregnant they would ask, “So what day have you decided to have the baby?”

What kind of question was that? I thought.

I would reply, “Pues, no sabemos. Cuando Dios quiere (We don’t know. In God’s time).”

With shock, and I mean that literally, eyes widening, blinks pronounced and eyebrows furrowing they would ask, “You aren’t scheduling a C-section? You plan on having this baby…naturally!?”

Wow. How weird could I be? To think I’d deliver this baby the way women having been doing since Eve started the trend ages ago! Tag another one on to my growing list of cultural blunders. I would find out that C-Sections were the way to go for women in Mexico, at least northern Mexico; at least the non-indigenous northern Mexicans.

The reasons? First of all, it was convenient. Everyone could plan around the birth, instead of having life stop because Uh-oh, I think it’s time- the baby’s coming. Second of all, at least according to many women, avoiding natural birth keeps the hips from spreading.

Too late. I’d already delivered three boys naturally; there was no more spread left in these hips, they’ve reached their limit (any more and I’m guessing my leg sockets would pop out).

I stuck to my guns and in so doing became a novelty, a sort of discussion piece if you will. And with each pre-natal visit, I repeated my wishes of a natural delivery to my doctor. After a few initial “Seguras? (are you sure?), the receptionist would call my name in the waiting room, announcing to the world, “Señora Hadinger, parto natural” (Mrs. Hadinger, natural birth). Heads turning my way, I was confident that my doc’s office had caught on that I was serious about this.

On April 25, 2000, I was asked to reconsider my choice in the matter.

My water broke and Mike rushed me to the hospital. After I walked (yes, walked) to the assigned room on the fourth floor, I changed into that lovely hospital gown and climbed as gracefully up on the bed as any other pregnant woman would do while her water was still breaking and while fumbling in vain to keep the back of the gown closed.

A nurse came over to help me lay down comfortably when suddenly her eyes widened,  she stuttered, “un momento”, and then rushed out of the room. Within seconds she came back with my doctor and a few other nurses, who after a quick glance and staccato discussion, strapped a fetal monitor around me and set me up to the machine.

The alarm was due to obvious amounts of meconium poisoning, and it was affecting my baby’s life, per the readings of her heartbeat. The doctor suggested an emergency C-Section, but would leave the decision to me since I had been so opposed to the idea.

Just then, Mike, who had been parking the car, entered and was made aware of the problem. There was no question now; no longer a matter of convenience or aesthetics, this was possibly a matter of the baby’s life or death.

Yes, cut me open and take her out ASAP!

Mike could not come into the operating room with me and I was a bit frightened and lonely as the rush was on. I would have preferred them to knock me out completely, but with only a localized anesthesia, I was left coherent with my mind racing with thoughts like “No one even knows this is happening, do they?” “I wish Mike would be in here with me” and “Someone needs to call my mother”. Then I closed my eyes and prayed, quelling my nervousness and a panic that began creeping in.

Within 10 minutes, my little girl was pulled into this world. The whitest and biggest baby most in that operating room had ever seen, with reddish blonde fuzz crowning her head. Later, in the hospital nursery, she was the object of curiosity.

This week she turns twelve. She is our very own Mexican-American, holding dual citizenship. In fact, I’ve won certain brownie points with the nationals here since I am “mamá to a Mexicana”.

She has been called “La guërrita mexicana” (the little white mexican). My husband calls her Sunshine; I call her mamita.

We all call her a gift from God.

Dissonance (Wednesday What my Friends Write)

My missionary friend in Costa Rica wrote an excellent post on something similar to what I’ve been wanting to write for awhile.

Basically, it offers insight to the question I so often am asked, “So, what do YOU do?”

Besides the complementary ministry I do alongside hubby, I make sure our home and family – both kids and hubby – are taken care of. Which, in another culture, can be additionally stressful and time consuming since often the simplest tasks, like paying an electric bill, are molehills that DO become mountains (and every cross-cultural worker just nodded amen).

In other words, much of our life as missionaries is basic living and surviving, just kicked up a notch! And it’s not necessarily newsletter worthy stuff.

From April’s thoughts to your reading pleasure, here’s her blog-post called Dissonance:

You know what really bothers me about being a missionary?  So much of daily life is taken up in doing ordinary daily living tasks.  It’s not like living on a missions trip.  People always glamorize missions life and think that we are always telling someone about Jesus, praying and fasting,  seeing great miracles, leading masses of people into the kingdom of God.  But it’s just not like that.

This last week I did absolutely nothing ministry related.  I stood in line for days and days at immigration.  I took my kids to the doctor’s office and the lab and the pharmacy.    I drove back and forth from home and school and gymnastics and soccer about 4 dozen times (it felt like).  I went to two of the five grocery stores that I normally shop at.  I bought two gifts for new babies and went to one baby-shower.  I cleaned my house several times.  I grounded my kids for fighting.  I helped my daughter finish a book report and memorize her Bible verse.  I washed countless loads of laundry and made 3 meals a day- except for yesterday when we went to lunch with friends and I made leftovers for dinner.

My point is, daily life is just so ordinary… no matter where you live.  I used to think that I’ll wait until I’m a grown up to do something big for God.  Or maybe when I’m a missionary then I’ll get my devotional life into some kind of regular pattern.  But if you don’t do it before your daily life takes over, it just won’t get done.  No matter where you live, life must be done daily.  That balancing act between Earthly and Heavenly is draining, straining, and complicated.  My heart wants to live every day in the Heavenly.   I long for my Heavenly home.  But my feet are here in the mud.  I’m grounded.  And it’s not glamorous.

Here I have the opportunity to give myself my usual pep talk and bring it back to a positive note.  But I think I’m just going to leave it on a note of dissonance because I still feel the discord between my body and spirit.  That’s just how it is sometimes.  Life doesn’t always have a pretty harmony.  And that bothers me.

Re-blogged from www.lacwriters.com.

April blogs at www.monkeysinmybag.wordpress.com