Culture shock. Again.

Just when I think that maybe twelve years is enough to give me an exemption from culture shock, another layer of it comes.

And really, I know better.

Every few months I hear a phrase I’ve never heard, understand a pop culture reference that previously went over my head, or am baffled by something I see on an Aussie TV program and I’m struck with a tiny little bout of culture shock, which fades as quickly as it landed.

This morning it happened while singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

You guys, the motions are different here. *gasp*

What?? Seriously?

Yup, for real.

Instead of flicking their entire hands from clinched fists to fingers extended like blinking lights, they extend all ten fingers wide and make them wiggle tiny little wiggles. (Like I would make to demonstrate rain.) The movements are small and delicate… kind of like twinkling stars. 

Imagine that.

And maybe this is a little thing, but it kind of spun me out.

I realized that the songs I’ve been singing to my littles at home will be taught differently at kindy or preschool or when they’re watching Playschool on the telly. Sometimes it’s the motions that are a bit different, and sometimes the tune actually varies!

I’ve seen this before but kind-of brushed it off, thinking that the person I saw or heard must not know the song properly. But now it’s starting to sink in that they do know the song properly… just differently to me.

As silly as it sounds it’s sent me into culture shock all over again.

Different is not wrong, it’s just different” is my motto when it comes to all things culture-shock-ish, but it doesn’t mean I don’t like it my way better. (Just keepin’ it real here, friends.)

Anyway, I will continue to teach my kids the American version of things (it’s called the “trunk” of the car, not the “boot”) and their dad and everyone else around them can go all Australian on them I guess. Cuz even if my littles are Aussie, and end up doing everything the Aussie way, at least maybe they can understand a tiny bit of their American heritage too. Even if it is just the way we sing I’m a Little Teapot.

STOP.

 

Q for you: Do you experience culture shock in your own family? Maybe you and your partner aren’t from different nations but you might have very different family backgrounds or life experiences. How do you meld two worlds into one?

 

Love,
A


He never stops giving

I was resting in bed tonight, head spinning with excitement knowing that our newly decorated tree and Christmas-a-fied house was on the other side of the bedroom door.

Finally I could stand it no more so I returned to the living room, opened all the windows, and now I sit facing the glow of tiny white lights while the rustle of palm leaves outside competes with the symphony of crickets (and a few guest appearances by the odd frog).

Gosh, I love this time of year.

Cliche? I don’t care. I love it. I so, so love it.

Today was a storm of a million emotions. Amidst the merriment of the holidays and the buzz that I get from the decorating kick-off, there’s so much going on in our little world right now that’s vying for headspace. Most of it good, but some uncomfortable.

At one point this afternoon I sat down for a few moments scrolling quickly through emails that I knew I’d not be responding to until later. But curious, I read a few anyway.

The first one I opened had some disappointing news. Understandable, and yet disappointing, deflating.

The second one was from a stranger. A woman who belongs to a people I’ve fallen in love with (PNG) who now lives in a place that I once called my own (USA).

We’ve been writing back and forth this last week and I teared up a few days ago when she told me her family thanked God for me and my family around their Thanksgiving table last week.

I don’t know her. But she knows Him.

And then today her email – the second email I opened – contained news so sweet and so personal and so unexpected I couldn’t control those big, hot tears, from rolling quickly down my cheeks.

You see, He is faithful. He really is so faithful.

And sometimes you think everything’s just fine and then grace comes in a million forms and you realize how much you really did need it after all.

I had grace in many different forms this week – friends arriving at my doorstep to mow our lawn and clean my floors, another bringing us dinner one night, another offering childcare, and now another (who’s face I can only imagine, and voice I do not know) with an offer so simple and lovely it makes me close my eyes and shake my head and whisper, “What did I do to deserve this kindness from a stranger? From anyone?”.

But it’s not a matter of “deserving” anything at all. I receive because they give. And they give because they want to. And they want to because they also know what it is to receive.

Because He never stops giving.

And that’s it – the way I want to start December and the preparation of my heart to celebrate – really celebrate Christ’s birth: I want to see Him around me, recognize Him as he weaves worlds together, hear Him through the noise, and breathe deeply of His of goodness.

I want to receive Him, all over again.

Thank you, dear grace-givers, for helping me to see Jesus. You represent Him so well.

STOP.

 

Q for you: How has someone’s kindness been grace in your life lately? 

 

Love,
A

p.s. Forgot to use the timer tonight. Definitely blew the five minutes… probably doubled it, but who knows, who cares.


The present I almost got but didn’t (but might still)

Sometimes, you have no idea what you’d like for Christmas except things that aren’t really in the “Christmas gift” category:

  • a new car (ours is bursting at the seems)
  • a new microwave (we’re on the edge of our seat waiting for our current one to blow up)
  • new chair covers (we have toddlers)
  • a new phone (that doesn’t randomly turn off multiple times every day)
  • or, uh, LASIK eye surgery (so I never have to worry about putting my contacts in the wrong eyes ever again)

But you know those things won’t fit in your stocking (or the budget) and so you say something along the lines of, I don’t want or need anything. Just surprise me.

And then you’re out running an errand for something completely unrelated and you see it – the perfect gift at the perfect sale price andyouhavetohaveit.

So you snap a phone pic and you tell your husband about it, and make sure he knows to hurry because they only have three left….

Only to hear a few days later that he did hurry, but it was too good a gift at too great a price and so now there’s three other happy ladies this Christmas. (And just maybe he didn’t hurry quite enough.)

And he sends you a photo of another one that’s currently in stock, but even though it’s more expensive it’s not as pretty and you say, no thank you… I just liked that other one.

Of course by this time you’re wishing you would have just bought the too-good-to-be-true present yourself when you found it and had given it to your husband for him to give back to you. (But you know that takes some of the fun out of it for him and it’s not really the point of gift-giving and the whole spirit-of-Christmas thing, so… There’s that.)

And yet by now you’re borderline obsessed with the present you’re not going to get and so you google it and come up empty.

Until you find something similar on ebay, which leads you to something even more similar, which leads you to it.

And it’s nearly the same price so you do a happy dance and forward your husband the link and say things like, you’ll never believe what I just found and yeah, I still really want this thing if it’s okay and want me to just go ahead buy it for you for me?

STOP.

 

Q for you: Do you put in requests for Christmas (or birthdays)? Why or why not?

 

Love,
A


La-la-la-la-la (it’s another profound one, folks)

Oh, hi! It’s you.

I remembered about you. For a few days.

Then I forgot about you again.

Promptly.

I suppose new (renewed?) habits can be hard to find (again).

But now that I’m remembering again, let’s just say la-la-la-la-la, Happy Thanksgiving!

La-la-la-la-la Christmas is coming!

Buddy the Elf says, “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!”

And you know what?

I agree. Wholeheartedly.

So, la-la-la-la-la I’m sorry I forgot about you! La-la-la-la-la, I might try a little harder.

La-la-la-la-la, but I’m making no promises this time!

La-la-la-la-la, I’m kinda excited about December!

La-la-la-la-la, it’s past my bedtime!

And in case  you’re grumpy today, I’ll leave you with another gem from everybody’s favorite elf that they love to hate or hate to love: “I just like to smile, smiling’s my favorite.” (-Buddy)

The end.

STOP.

Q for you: Do you like singing? Wait, better question, do you like singing Christmas carols? #pleasesayyes 

Love,
A


When your littles share a bedroom…

There are so many upsides to having the boys share a room. They play with all the same toys anyway. It feels like they are practically in the same size clothes. “Kid stuff” is mostly contained in one room of the house, rather than stashed in every nook and cranny. I believe it helps promote learning to share and respect and play and work together. Bonding. Yup, lots of reasons.

But there are also a couple of downsides.

Today at lunch Judah was yawning and ready for bed. Soon after he finished I changed him, read the boys stories, and put them in bed.

Several minutes later I heard giggling and slapping. I peeked in the door to see Judah on his knees, rocking side to side, slapping his thighs, grinning and “singing” loudly. (My kiwi friends will be pleased to know that I’m almost positive he was doing the “haka”.)

He was happy as a clam and hyper as a… a… I don’t know. A kid who ate fruit loops for lunch? (He didn’t, by the way.)

Of course Levi finds this hilarious so he is in his bed copying and laughing, until I open the door when he dives for cover and pretends to be sleeping.

Most days I’d work really hard to get the boys both sleeping at the same time (they really do need it, and so do I) but every once-and-a-while I just don’t bother. I figure – they’re happy and they will have days where they wind each other up too much. As long as they stay in there and give me some space, I can deal with a few shrieks of laughter and harmless “naughtiness” during nap time. They’ll go to bed early tonight and I’ll cross my fingers that there won’t be too many melt-downs in between.

And I must admit, it’s kind of fun to snoop through a cracked door and watch the boys bonding and having so much fun… even if it is during nap time.

 

Q for you: Did you share a room growing up? If so, do you have fond memories of it? If you have kids, do they share?

 

Love,
A

 


The “perfect” holiday season

Thanksgiving is in a few days and I’m officially excited for Christmas.

Around here that means higher electricity bills (hello, AC!) and less clothes. It means more sweat and more swimming. It means uglier hair and more beautiful evening walks.

Every year we long for our holidays to be “the best ever” and it’s easy to make ourselves crazy with wanting our homes and tables and gifts and trees to look like something out of Martha Stewart. (And don’t get me wrong, I love prettiness all around.)

But I refuse to pursue “pretty” at the expense of “perfect”.

Because perfect holidays don’t come looking like a magazine spread.

Perfect holidays come when there is enough time and space and energy to enjoy the ones we love.

Sometimes that comes with a gorgeous party spread laid out around a pinterest-worthy centerpiece and other times that comes with a backyard BBQ and impromptu game of cricket while dining on picnic wear.

Either way, perfect is achievable. As long as we have the right idea of perfect. 

 

Q for you: Do you stress about having the “perfect” holidays?

 

Love,
A

 


Clarification

…and by “the next several weeks” what I apparently meant was the next several months.

Do you know how hard it is to reform a habit once it’s lost?

And do you know how easy it is to drop a habit?

I faithfully wrote on this little blog for five minutes a day for more than half a year… and yet it took next to nothing for me to kick it to the curb.

Why isn’t kicking a bad habit as easy as kicking a good one?

Seriously. This is a real question.

Why???

There was a good chunk of time that life got a little crazy, but now it’s back to normal – the normal crazy.

So I should be back right?

I suppose it’s just a matter of decision.

Ok then, I’m deciding to be back.

Can’t even describe how I’ve missed this little place, but even more – how I’ve missed my discipline of daily free writing. It’s good for my soul.

STOP.

 

Q for you: What do you think? Why is it so easy to break good habits, but so hard to break bad ones?

 

Love,
A

 


The shortest post I’ve ever written. Literally.

I won’t be posting here for the next several weeks. This is why.

Love,
A


Tiny little ship

I have nothing to write about, except that I’m going to Papua New Guinea the day after tomorrow.

Whoa. Just whoa.

It’s pretty much the only thing on my mind at the moment.

I can think of nothing else.

Excited? Way too small a word.

There is organizing and list-building and list-crossing-off and emailing and errands and laundering and packing and cleaning…. and and and… lots to do.

But you know what? It’s all for PNG.

I can’t stop thinking about it.

I’m probably not going to sleep for the next three weeks as the four of us share a cabin smaller than our kitchen. I’ll say good-bye to facebook and instagram and pinterest and blogging. I’ll have micro showers and wear the same two shirts every-other-day. I’l not be able to pop down to the shops when I run out of something or realize I’ve forgotten something. No nightly news or long walks around the neighborhood. No time alone. No googling when I don’t know the answer to something! *gasp*

I’ll be on a tiny little ship based out of a tiny little cabin doing tiny little work that will make a great big difference.

And you know what else?

It’s gonna be amazing.

And it will probably change our lives.

It will certainly change the future.

Ummmm, did I tell you I can’t wait??!

STOP.

Q for you: When’s the last time you were preparing to do something that you were SO excited about??

Love,
A

Click Clink Five | Five minutes a day, unedited.


Indecision, and how much I loathe it.

One of the great plagues of my generation is indecision.

So many young people are trapped in their inability to just say yes or no.

Over and over again I’m frustrated by my peers, as well as those younger than I, who can’t (or won’t?) commit.

I understand that decision-making is easier for some than others. (Yes, I am decisive by nature. Not everyone is – I get that.) But that’s not what I’m talking about.

I’m talking about this epidemic of young people being afraid to step out and choose something.

Oh, we love to take a stance on “issues” and fight for “causes”, but that’s much easier when it’s not too personal.

Often, I think our indecision is because of a fear of missing out on something better.

We’re so bombarded with information all the time, that we subconsciously get the message that surely the “next big thing” is right around the corner.

We just have to somehow get ourselves in the right place at the right time.

I see this over and over with events – parties, celebrations, etc. People don’t RSVP – they leave it open-ended, thinking they will come if there’s nothing better to do, or if they feel like it.

And you know what? That just makes me cranky.

For one, it’s rude.

But beyond that, it robbing people of peace.

When you waffle in indecision (not just about inconsequential things like RSVPing for a party – but big things like vocation and relationships and geography), you leave yourself open and exposed to being tossed around by circumstances.

Or–perhaps worse–stagnating right where you’re at.

You run the risk of missing out on a lot of life while waiting for something that doesn’t yet exist. (And might never exist.)

And you know what? Sometimes the best option is right in front of your face.

STOP.

 

Q for you: How has indecision affected your life?

 

Love,
A

 

Click Clink Five | Five minutes a day, unedited.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 223 other followers