Monday, September 21, 2015

A little Russian healthcare before leaving...

No idea where the past month went, but I was planning for the past two weeks to be pretty productive, and instead I've been sick.

About 10 days ago, a virus hit our church (as usual). I started to feel weird about the same time, and before I knew it, I felt completely sapped of strength. Stayed home from church last Sunday and finally had to just put on some TV for David because I needed to lie down.

Then I waited for the usual cold symptoms to arrive. My eyes got reeeally red and watery, and I was sure the sniffles would be next. But instead I got this really specific type of pain in my throat, and once I checked in the mirror, I knew it wasn't just a cold...more like strep. :/

Andrei tried to make an appointment for me at the new fancy clinic just down the street. But unfortunately they were completely booked for the next day. Hopefully in an emergency they would have something.

However, the next place he called did have an opening. As I found the address, I realized that I'd been there before, the last time my throat hurt...when David was a baby (I can't find a post about it on here). I walked in and everything was as I remembered it.

After I had waited for several minutes, the doctor took me into sort of a closet-sized room as the others were occupied. As we got to talking, I decided that he was definitely the ENT I'd seen before, a sort of grandfatherly type. It seemed to be God's provision that Andrei had just "happened" to find that clinic (without knowing I'd been there already), and that the first one hadn't had any appointments.

After examining my polka-dotted throat, the doctor prescribed antibiotics and a few things to gargle with.

The antibiotics seem to be finally bringing some improvement, but not completely.


David and I are leaving for the U.S. in three days! I'm in complete denial. I've done nothing to prepare except dump a mix of clean and dirty clothes near two suitcases. All we need to do is make it on the plane...and then the second one, of course. And then we'll see what happens from there!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Traveling (internationally) with a 3 yr old

Behind the scenes of our most recent getaway...

Basically been working on this post for a month now, and figured I'd better get it up before we travel again! (hint: in less than a week)

David turned 3 shortly before we went on our trip to the UK this summer. No more nursing this year, but still in diapers. Pickier than ever and co-sleeping more than before!

But on to the travel...

Plane/train/bus rides

As you've probably discovered when traveling with a young child, you have to plan ahead of time to make sure you have enough hands for all the pieces of luggage/gear. Out of "baby" gear, we only brought a stroller this time. We don't use a carseat on the plane, and rent or borrow one when we arrive.

If we had a newer or more expensive stroller, I might think twice about bringing one, since they can get broken in luggage holds. But ours is on its way out!

Taking the stroller means that one person's hands are occupied, but it also means that the child is restrained and out of harm's way!

Baby niece !
As far as layovers, 2 hours is perfect for stretching your legs and making the necessary stops before security and boarding. 3-4 will do if you would also like to sit and have a meal. Less than 2 would probably make me nervous.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Incline your ear

What's your worship style?

As a member of a worship "team," I sometimes feel like I'm under scrutiny. Do I have the right stage presence? It's not a performance, but there is still pressure to behave properly and have a certain look.

I have been in churches that described their own worship sessions using terms like "freedom" and "Spirit-led." To me it seemed like it gave extroverts an excuse to scream, cry, and dance around. I don't take issue with their expression; only with it being labeled as something more spiritual. I only mean that others can be touched deeply too, without it coming to the surface. Does there have to be an outward manifestation? Are there other ways to see fruit?

People can adapt to different cultural norms for worship, which isn't a bad thing. It is completely respectful to rein in one's personal preferences, to sit and stand (or clap your hands!) on command, or to sing songs that are in a different style than desired. Casting off preferences is an act of service, too. There is plenty of this that goes on at our church in Russia, as many songs are translations of Western songs, with different keys and lyrics than might be common in the Russian tradition.

But I'm getting kind of sidetracked. Without going into all the intricacies of worship music and personality differences, I was once again meditating on how I was to worship. And the words came to me: Incline your ear. Which occurs in scripture in several places, though the wording is different in different translations.

For example:
My son, if you will receive my words
And treasure my commandments within you,
Make your ear attentive to wisdom,
Incline your heart to understanding...(Proverbs 2:1, 2 NASB)

For simplicity's sake, we'll say it means to listen. Except that when I'm singing, I often feel like I actually want to tilt my head and lean in closer, as if I'll hear it better-as if the words might have a better chance of reaching my heart.

And that's what I think about when I'm singing up there...or offstage, or at home, or wherever! I just want to absorb the truths in the words as best I can. Maybe it's not straight scripture, but I can stand with others in agreeing about whatever it is the worship songs proclaim.

You could say that I'm just being an introvert, wanting to stand there and listen, and not show any reaction. Even when I'm in a community worship setting and even when I'm supposed to be helping lead, I just want to listen. But it's not necessarily a passive thing. However, I guess you could say I do lose some inhibitions, as doing anything onstage is normally a bit intimidating.

Is there anything wrong with just being yourself when you sing to God? Have you ever received a personal revelation about how you worship? Do you think your everyday personality changes when you "enter in" to worship?

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Planning a "destination" family reunion

Behind the scenes of our most recent getaway..

Getting the cousins organized...

Family reunions are sometimes hosted by family members, perhaps over a holiday weekend. Other families might have a time-share, like a beach house that they visit every year. But every once in a while, it's fun to plan something a little more ambitious.

My siblings and I are scattered across the globe at varying distances from each other and our parents. I guess it's fair to say that there are a higher concentration on the East Coast, but then again Florida is pretty far from Massachusetts. Suffice it to say that any gathering is going to mean traveling a long way for at least a few people. So, might as well try out different rendezvous points, right?

We started bouncing around the idea of a trip to the UK for my dad's 70th birthday. It's his ancestral home, and truth be told, I was excited to be going somewhere LESS than 5 hours away by plane (sorry, everyone else). So the decision was made to get 22 people (15 adults and 7 children) over to Scotland.

Here are some notes from trip planning:

1) Planning the planning

In a large group, you will inevitably have planners and non-planners, leaders and followers, etc. You will have people who never read emails, and those who read and respond multiple times per day.

If you are going somewhere where you will be participating in any sort of sightseeing or cultural programs, you need to think about how you are going to organize everyone. It's not fun for negotiations to take up precious time that could be spent together...though that is part of being in a family. Everyone needs to eat at least 3x per day, and children (and some adults) will need naps. I don't know of the best universal approach, but we did fairly well considering all the logistics.

When everyone is from out-of-town and no one is necessarily familiar to the area, some extra research will be required.

Bagpipe concert was first on everyone's list, right?

5 years later

 After my latest  weird dream sequence , I found my mind wandering to an alternate scenario where our church never split up . I did the math...