|Boys holding a a hawk|
I was sitting in a restaurant with two friends when a disruption several tables over caused me to turn my attention that direction. To my surprise, I saw a middle-aged man hunched over by the weight of the old woman he had slung over his back! It was evidently his mother who was not in great physical condition, but obviously still was wanting to be out and about. So there they were, scuffling through the restaurant with this little old woman clinging to his back like a toddler would, bumping into tables until they reached the rest of the awaiting family members. It was a sweet act of service that stood out to me....would I have the gumption to make such a scene in a fancy restaurant to bring a loved one into fellowship around a meal? (Mom and Sandi, if you're reading this, hopefully we won't ever have to find out! :)
The next one was in a more tame environment--one of my best friend's homes. We were gathering at her home to celebrate one of the kid's birthdays when I discovered her eight year old daughter using the gas stove to light a piece of paper on fire! Her plan was to then use the flaming piece of paper to light the candle on the cupcake, but the fact that her young-ish daughter would initiate such a hazardous activity without seeming to think twice caught me off guard. And yet her method worked, and alas, the candle was lit!
We had a CRAZY interaction with our landlord a little over a month ago that has left us all a little unnerved in her presence. She lives in another apartment that is in our same complex, and so we regularly see her outside. Well, on this particular day, she yelled out to Kevin on his way home from work and came up to him quite aggressively. She then explained to him that her stomach was hurting, and she demanded that he bring the flower to her that was in our kitchen window so that she could eat it and feel better! That's right...she wanted to eat my rose! Now the backstory on the rose is that Karis had used her allowance the week before to buy this beautiful purple rose from a vendor on the side of the road to give to me as a birthday present. I had put the pot in my second-floor kitchen window where our landlord could (obviously) see it when she walked past. Also, roses are commonly eaten in this culture (usually in the form of a jam after it's been sweetened with sugar), as they are believed to help with stomach or digestive issues. Our landlord was insistent--Kevin MUST bring the rose to her at her home right away. When Kevin paused and asked for clarification, then confirmed that he was understanding what she was demanding, he then explained that he couldn't give that particular rose to her as it had been a gift from his daughter to his wife. To this, she boldly declared that he was wrong and again insisted that the flower was hers--that she had left it there when she had moved out (which was more than 2 months before that time, and which was CRAZY as the apartment was totally empty when we moved in!). Kevin, at a loss, repeated his defense of the rose; the landlord replied that he should return home and ask his wife. She was certain that I would confirm her claim that the rose was actually hers and should be brought to her home. She was, sadly, mistaken, and the rose remained in my kitchen windowsill until it died. But the interaction left us unsure about the mental condition of our landlord...which hasn't helped in our most recent interactions....
|bed bug bite! :(|
|Eli in a Crossfit competition|
And yet....I'm seeing good coming out of this already. I know, can that even be possible? Right now my foot is itching like crazy where my shoe is rubbing a bedbug bite, so I'm a little hesitant to type it... and yet....it's true! We listened as a family to someone talking about there being purpose in hardship. Trials and challenges make us depend on God more, which is what walking with him is all about. So while we don't always know why we experience trials, we can claim with confidence that at least one purpose is to draw us deeper into him. Eli came to me about two weeks ago while I was making breakfast and asked, "Mom, do you know why God hasn't had the bedbugs stop biting?" I told him I honestly didn't really know why, but asked him what we'd talked about as a family in regard to that issue the week before. He was able to articulate that trials draw us to depend more on God. Then this week as we met to fellowship with others, he shared that as a praise; the bedbugs are making him depend on God more and he's thankful for that. What a praise! I can't imagine any greater gift than my kids having the perspective that a good and loving God allows trials in our lives so that we know him and depend on him more. Can you imagine the foundation that this gives a soul? I constantly find myself so weak; I expect my life to be easy and comfortable. What if I didn't have that underlying assumption? What if I thought that hardship was part of life and was to be expected? I can't help but think that if my kids can grasp that--that our God can be both loving AND ordain trials in our lives--they could be equipped to endure things with joy to an extent that I sure can't! So are the bedbugs worth it? Jury's still out! :) But for today, we're hanging on and I'm thankful to be able to see good even in the itchiness!
Now I should come clean...this doesn't mean that we're not still actively trying to rid our home of the boogers (this is our affectionate family name for our uninvited housemates). In fact, we're going in full attack mode as of this next week. We've tried everything we feel is safe to do (it's really risky here to use pesticides; they don't regulate chemicals like they do in the US), so we're moving on to more drastic measures. The first step is to clean out the boys room. We're going to trash all their furniture (which makes us all so sad!) and chemically treat their Legos and Nerf guns, then seal them up. Kevin's going to take apart as much of the room as he can--including the light and electric outlets and pull off the baseboards. Then we'll have the exterminators come and blast the room again right before we leave town (we're going on a bike trip as a family through some of the region that will last about a week). Then we'll see where we are and slowly start moving through more rooms of the house, getting rid of furniture and other belongings as we go. The worst case scenario is that we need to move and have to ditch most of our personal belongings, but we're sure hoping to avoid such drastic measures!
We've celebrated several birthdays since I last wrote....Hudson turned 10 at the beginning of May, and then Karis and Noah turned 13 and 8, respectively, in June. And I might have had another one myself at the beginning of May, but we'll leave my age still undisclosed here (although if you ask anyone in China, they can tell you; that's usually one of the first questions I'm asked as people observe me and my small herd of children!) Here are a few pics to mark the fun memories....
|Hud's bday roller blades|
|Noah opening gifts in our living room|
|Karis' park celebration|