Monthly Archives: November 2013

Post 167. Friends first

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We felt Tony needed to visit Dudley Daniel to chat about our future with NCMI. (See Post 73) We were still feeling isolated and wanted some clarity regarding relationships and expectations.  Dudley was living in L.A. but we felt the long trip was absolutely vital.

Tony had a dream a few months before going.  He dreamt he was walking in a park with Dudley, pouring his heart out.  Dudley was listening and encouraging him.  When he met Dudley, it was just as it had been in his dream.  They went for a walk.  Tony talked and Dudley listened.  There were lots of questions and explanations.  When Dudley asked about our financial situation, he was visually upset to hear we weren’t getting enough regular support.  We hadn’t spoken about it so he had no idea.  He was also surprised to hear that so few of his team were coming to help us with our training.

Tony came home armed with a fax/answer machine, a thousand apologies from Dudley and his assurance that things would be different.  We were grateful and relieved to hear that.  We knew we could not have continued the way we were going.

Friendships were important to us.  Not just wordy, whimsical friendships, but real ones.  Deep ones.  Agape ones.  Ones that were going to last forever.   Friends who were like brothers and sisters.  People who knew our kids and their friends.  Friends who loved India and knew our Indian family.  People who knew and loved what we were doing.

When we were in a dark, lonely place we found ourselves asking the questions, “Who are our friends?  Where are our friends?  Who can we call?  Who would come if the wheels came off our lives?”   There was a bigger question.  “Who are going to be our friends ‘til the day we die?”

Friendships based on what we were doing didn’t seem to cut it.  We had hundreds of visitors.  People loved what we were doing and many expressed the desire to be involved in our future.   Those friendships were great while they lasted, but they didn’t last.  It seemed to be “out of sight, out of mind.”  They flew home and we never heard from them again.

Many who visited asked what they could do to help.  We got to a point where we replied, “Do you really want to know or are you just asking?”  Most were just asking so we didn’t feel the need to tell them what we needed.  Some left us with promises to send finances for our training and projects.  They took our bank details and never used them.  We learnt to deal with disappointment.

We weren’t completely friendless.  Sometimes it just seemed that way.  There were people who would have come at the drop of a hat.  We were so grateful to have them in our lives.

The most important lesson we learnt in those early days was that to put our confidence in man was NOT a good idea.  How many times had we unintentionally failed our friends?  How often had we not been able to come up with the goods?  How many times had we over-promised and under-delivered?

There was only One we could rely on.  Only One who would never let us down.  He would always answer and He would always provide.  His timing was always perfect even though we so often thought He was late; or just VERY slow.

Post 166. Sleeping anywhere

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Whenever possible, the kids came with us; especially in the early days when we didn’t know anyone in India.  We decided they wouldn’t determine our comings and goings.  If we needed to go somewhere, they would have to fit in with our plans.

Right from the start, we established that days were for kids and evenings were for adults.  We tried our best to have the kids in bed by 7.30 pm so Tony and I could have time together.  The kids were full on and had the time of their lives from the moment the sun rose ‘til the time it set.  They got lots of attention for at least twelve hours out of twenty-four.  If left to them, they would have taken the other available twelve.  That’s why we didn’t leave it to them.  That was our time to catch up, talk without shouting above noise and spend uninterrupted time with friends who popped in.  We fed, read and bed them and then enjoyed some peace and quiet.  If they wandered out, they were sent back, if they called “MOMMMMY,” the answer was, “Nooo.”

Evening meetings were a challenge.  It was tempting to skip them and stay home with the kids.  Knowing we would come home late and have to walk the five-minute path in the pitch dark with three sleepy children didn’t help.  We had to be extremely organised which went slightly against our organic tendency.  They had to be in their pyjamas, fed and ready way ahead of time.  When we got to our destination they went straight into a bedroom or quiet room to lie down.  If they were allowed into the action they would get hyper and take ages to sleep.

Sunday mornings were always there to confirm the Law of Murphy.  We would run out of water, gas or there would be a major traffic jam in the bazaar.  Instead of coming out of our devotional times shining with God’s glory and ready for church, we were often stressed out and irritated with each other.  A lot of it had to do with being unorganised.  If I planned well the night before, things seemed to go well.  The kids had to have snacks, water, something to do and a blanket to sit on in the hall.

We wanted them to learn to sleep anywhere.  When we travelled with Ash to New Zealand, she was nine months old.  We stayed in shady hotels where there wasn’t much space.  We cleared out the bottom drawer of a chest of drawers and put her in there to sleep.  Of course she had a blanket and we didn’t close the drawer.  The halls in Mussoorie were really grubby and there wasn’t anywhere to put babies.   During our services, Tony’s guitar case was a perfect bed for Jordan.  On one of our trips, we emptied out a suitcase and made a bed for Zoë.

We figured that if they could sleep anywhere, we could take them anywhere.  If they could only sleep in their cosy bed at home, we would have a problem.  If they couldn’t sleep with noise, we would have to tip toe around the house so they could sleep.  The best thing was for them to get used to sleeping in noisy environments.

India was rated as one of the noisiest countries in the world.  If our kids could only sleep when it was quiet, they would hardly ever sleep.  India was not going to change for our kids.  They had to adjust to her.

Post 165. Meet Bum Woody

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It was hard to be consistent.  It was so much easier to sit down and let it all go on.  There were times I was tired beyond being safe or nice.  At times I was too harsh.  Sometimes I was too lazy.  Thoughts like,  “They’ll turn out alright.  They’re just kids.  Let them be,”  came and went.

They went when we thought about what our kids would be like if we left them to their own devices. Those thoughts made us get off our butts and deal with the situation.  We knew that being consistent would give them the boundaries they were asking for.  We knew that being firm about what we expected of them, gave them the freedom to love the things that were good for them.  We wanted them to learn to obey.  We knew it would help them in the future: school, college, church, careers and then the raising of their own kids one day.   How we raised them was of great consequence.

Of course we wanted them to grow up to be responsible members of society.  Yes, we wanted them to be kind and to treat everyone with dignity and respect.  Of course, if they were running towards traffic and we said, “Stop,”  they would do just that.  We didn’t want them to end up in jail because they didn’t learn how to obey our simple family rules.

We knew our parenting would determine these things.  If we didn’t teach our children to be responsible, they would struggle with it when they grew up.  If we didn’t insist on them greeting people when they were greeted, why would they do that as adults?  Teaching them to treat everyone in their lives with absolute respect, no matter what their class or colour would instil in them a love for the “whosoever.”

What if God told them to do something and they just didn’t feel like listening?  What if one day they couldn’t submit to godly leadership because they weren’t trained to do so?  What if they grew up thinking they were “God’s gift to the world” because they were never pulled up about the bad stuff?

A manipulating, sulking child is not a pretty sight.  A manipulating, sulking adult is ugly.  We knew of too many adults who huffed off at the slightest hint of challenge or difficult truth.

Disciplining our children was hard work.  It took every bit of energy we had to keep vigilant at all times.   To not let them get away with things.  To make sure they were safe and happy.  It took a lot of patient teaching, talking and explaining.  There were times when we were exasperated with them and on the verge of “losing it.”  We had seen parents allowing things to build up.  They allowed their kids to get away with murder and didn’t do anything about it; until they had enough.  Then all hell would break lose and the poor kid would get it for no apparent reason and without an explanation.

We learnt to send them to their room so we could calm down.  We never wanted to discipline them in anger.  When we had calmed down,  we went in for a chat.  We put them on our lap, facing us; eyeball to eyeball.  We talked about what had happened and made sure they understood what they had done wrong.  We told them how many woodies they were going to get.  That depended on the seriousness of the “crime” and their age at the time.  They would go over our knee and Bum Woody* would come down.  It was important that they felt it.  They would sit on our lap again and their tears would be wiped away.  There would be hugs and kisses. They would say “Sorry” and “Thank you” and that would be that.  No more crying, no sulky face; all happy again.  All over.

Jordan’s sense of humour made it really difficult for us to be serious during a woody session.  His expressions and body movements were so funny it was hard to keep a straight face.  He would stand there gripping his bum and getting the shivers.  Sometimes it was so bad, I had to say, “You’re making me laugh, but you’re still getting a woody.”  One day, after a long, “Do you know why you’re getting a woody?” chat, he got the shivers and said, “Mom, I have just had deja-vu.”  I had to call Tony in to take over.

* Bum Woody was a small, thin wooden spatula. Not a baseball bat.