Thursday, October 30, 2014

Book Review

My friend, Jennifer, wrote a book.  

Everyday Poetry: Looking on the Bright Side of Life



When I think of Jen, two words come immediately to mind; friend and funny.

Jen deeply values friendships and she is a faithful friend herself.  She regularly hosts get togethers, whether it involves coffee at a local coffee shop or dinner and a movie at her house.  She cares for others and this is seen in her thoughtfulness.  
Jen is also really funny.  She makes me laugh in a way that few others do.  She uses her wit and sarcasm to form a creative sense of humor.  

Why am I going on about these two character traits of hers?  Because they shine forth in her book.  

In "My Forever Friend and Sister" she demonstrates how great friendships can be made within one's own family.  A Record of Rights reveals how friends can show us our own sin in a helpful way.  An Entirely Lovely Afternoon and Twilight reflect her enjoyment in spending time with those close to her.  


Jen's sense of humor is shown in poems like To My Headache, The Subtle Dangers of Whipped Cream and in one of my favorites, The Fugitive - a poem about a weird dream come to reality, a cheeseburger dropping by for a visit!  

Her creativity with words is seen in Harry the Canary, Questions Over Brunch and Unexpected Endings.  

While Jen excels with the unexpected and "experimentations on traditional form", you will still find the occasional traditional poem with beautiful word imagery in Unexpected Bougainvillea and Dictionary.

I have to admit, my favorite poems are always short and sweet and Jen has a number of these in her book.  I'll share a few with you:


Short Summer Haiku

Coffee in the shade.
Nice afternoon naps.
Fun parties at night.

The Inevitable Mr. M.

'Tis grand
to hold your hand
as we walk through life
as husband and wife.

and one last one,

Little Poem

At the end of the day,
I open the window and lie in bed.
Freedom flows through the curtains,
and cradles my head.

I actually meant to write this review awhile ago, but things worked out perfectly as it happens to be Jen's birthday today!  So, happy birthday my sweet friend!  Thank you for sharing a bit of yourself with us in your delightful book.  

You can order one yourself from Amazon, right here.  And seriously, you should get a copy yourself, if for no other reason than to read about that runaway cheeseburger!



Wednesday, October 22, 2014

9 Months


As per usual I am a little behind again in posting about Shirley.  Poor second child.  I'm definitely not planning on doing the monthly update again, maybe just a monthly picture.  


Usually I'm the one taking the pictures around here, but the one above was taken by her daddy!  I love that you can see her little teethies.  This month Shirley started pulling herself up on furniture, my legs, the dogs...okay not the dogs, she doesn't even know the dogs, but she'll pretty much pull herself up on anything.  


This little girl is such a character.  She makes the funniest noises and faces and she finally started saying "ma ma ma".  No, she doesn't know what it means yet, but someday!  She also learned how to clap and wave to friends.


Before I fell asleep last night I was looking at the picture of when I first met Shirley.  I will never forget that moment.  All those nine months I was wondering what she'd look like and what her little personality would be, and then I was so surprised to see that to me, she didn't look like either Kwacha or me, she just looked like her own person.  And now nine months later I just can't believe there was a time when she didn't exist.  I love her so much and daily thank God for her.  He is so kind and loving to give us such wonderful gifts.

"The Love of Christ constraineth us." 2 Cor. 5:14

"How much you owe unto your Lord!  Has He ever done anything for you?  Has He forgiven your sins?  Has He covered you with a robe of righteousness?  Has He set your feet upon a rock?  Has He established your goings?  Has He prepared heaven for you?  Has He prepared you for heaven?  Has He written your name in His book of life?  Has He given you countless blessings?  Has He laid up for you a store of mercies, which eye has not seen nor ear heard?
  
Then do something for Jesus, which is worthy of His love.  Give not a mere wordy offering to a dying Redeemer.  How will you feel when your Master comes, if you have to confess that you did nothing for Him - but kept your love shut up, like a stagnant pool, not flowing forth to His work.  Out on such love as that!

What do men think of a love which never shows itself in action?  Why, they say, 'Open rebuke is better than secret love.'  Who will accept a love so weak - that it does not actuate you to a single deed of self-denial, of generosity, of heroism, or zeal!  Think how He has loved you, and given Himself for you!  Do you know the power of that love?  Then let it be like a rushing mighty wind to your soul - to sweep out the clouds of your worldliness, and clear away the mists of sin.  

'For Christ's sake' be this the tongue of fire that shall sit upon you; 'for Christ's sake' be this the divine rapture, the heavenly affection to bear you aloft from earth; the divine spirit that shall make you bold as lions and swift as eagles in your Lord's service.  Love should give wings to the feet of service, and strength to the arms of labor.

Fixed on God with a constancy that is not to be shaken, resolute to honor Him with a determination that is not to be turned aside, and pressing on with an ardor never to be wearied - let us manifest the constraints of love to Jesus.  May the divine loadstone draw us heavenward towards itself!"

-Spurgeon

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Eight Months


Shirley turned eight months right after we got home from Malawi.  A lot of things happened this month.  Shirley flew in a plane across the ocean, she started pulling herself up on furniture, and two of her teeth grew in.  (I'd let you see, but I didn't want to have to add another crying picture.)

She still has to don a headband to avoid the "he's so cute" comments. 


Shirley has definitely started to reveal that she has a...ahem...will of her own.  It is clear that she understands the word, "no."  If she starts to touch something she knows she's not supposed to touch and I say "No, Shirley," she'll stop and look at me and grunt, making it clear that she's not happy about it.  Oh dear.  It starts already.


Yep.  Mischievousness right there.


As you can see, she's still growing like a weed!  
As always we love our little Shirley girl!


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Lilongwe

The majority of our time in Malawi was spent in Lilongwe where we plan on living when we move.  We stayed with Kwacha's sisters, Jellita (Jellie) and Evelyn, along with all the girl cousins.  (Shirley had the time of her life!)  Evelyn was up north working for the first part of our trip but we stopped and saw her on our way to Mzuzu and then we enjoyed more time with her at home later on.


Shirley meeting Auntie Evelyn for the first time


Hanging out on Auntie Jellie's back

We kept pretty busy in Lilongwe.  We spent a lot of time with family and we went to two different weddings!  Kwacha's friend, Kondi, did his first wedding while we were there and his whole church was invited so we went along.  It was pretty fancy, held in Area 10 where all the diplomats live.  It took place in a beautiful garden.  


Our plans are to be involved with Kondi's church plant when we move.  Kondi and Patricia Nyanda were able to come to California for the Truth Matters conference last October and we spent a lot of time with them, so I am thankful that I already have a friendship with Patricia.  They have two sweet kids, Warren and Karen.  There is also another couple, Newton and Vanessa Chilungulo, (they were sent out from Living Hope Church in South Africa to work with the church plant), who arrived in Malawi two weeks before we came.  Newton and Vanessa were both born in Malawi and they have a sweet little girl, Aya.  We were able to spend a lot of time with them as well and I already feel like I have known Vanessa for a long time.  She was so easy to talk to.  


Sunday morning at the church plant



The Chilungulo's, Nyanda's and Simwaka's


My Malawian friendies!


Karen and Shirley :)

We also spent some time with all the missionaries in Malawi sent out from Grace Community.  We had dinner one night with the Ayre's and the Floreen's and we had dessert another night at the Biedebach's.  CAPA, Central African Preaching Academy was recently launched in Lilongwe.  This is something they have been planning for a long time, so it's exciting to see it begin.  The plans are also for Kwacha to teach there when we move, alongside Jim Ayres.  


I am so sad that somehow I didn't get a picture with all the Ayre's and Floreen's.  :(  But here's one pic of Shirley and Naomi Floreen at least.  They are two months apart.


The Biedebach's.  Anita served one of Kwacha's favorite desserts, Mulva (sp?) pudding!

Since our trip was longer this time, we also had some days where we could just hang out at home.  This was so nice.  We went shopping a few times.  Malawi has some really nice grocery stores.  And Shirley loved spending time with her Aunties and cousins.  


Hanging out on Jellie's porch (My necklace and earrings were a gift from my nieces :)




Shirley enjoyed "skating" on the polished floors


Chipiku, one of the more popular grocery stores


Chigo and Shirl


This just may be my favorite pic from the trip.  It was actually on our drive home from Mzuzu.

When we visited Malawi the first time, I fell in love with the chitenjes.  They are useful in many ways; carrying babies on your back, keeping your clothes clean from the dust or while cooking, keeping your hair out of the way, etc.  I really wanted to get some last time but I never found a place where they were selling them.  This time Patricia helped me out and we got a whole bunch!


Mom and I sporting the chitenjes.  

I'll be back with more!  ;)  

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Our Time in Mzuzu

It is really difficult to start a post about a two week trip to Malawi.  I've tried a couple times already!  It seems I either have to go into great detail or summarize.  I may just have to break it up into a number of posts.  We'll see.

This trip was so different than the last trip we took in 2012.  For one thing, it was twice as long.  Seriously, I can't believe we only went for six days last time and somehow managed to fit in as much as we did.  This time, half way through I kept thinking, "I can't believe that we were headed home at this point."

First off, I am so thankful that Shirley did well on the long flight.  By God's grace we were given the whole middle row on both long flights to and from Malawi, so Shirley had an extra seat all to herself. We were able to lay her down on a pillow and strap her in with the seatbelt and she could sleep or watch her little TV.  Toy Story was the movie of choice.  ;)  Then for the short flights, we took the advice of friends and put some pillows on top of the food trays and she was able to sleep.  It worked great!


So grown up!  :)

Another thing I am thankful for is that we were all healthy the whole time!  In 2012 I was having a lot of problems with my ulcerative colitis and I had a terrible cold.  It made such a difference feeling well and not being in a daze the entire time.  
The last major difference between the two trips is fairly obvious.  This time, Kwacha and I were married!  With a baby!  Last time we weren't even engaged.  It was such a blessing spending time with my new family rather than just meeting Kwacha's family.  It was wonderful having extended time with my new sisters and brother, my second mom and dad, and my nieces and to have Shirley meet them all for the first time!
The day after we arrived in Lilongwe we drove five hours north to Mzuzu where Kwacha's parents live.  The one bitter aspect of this trip is that three days before we left for Malawi, we found out that Kwacha's older brother, Granger, died.  It was very unexpected.  We're still not sure exactly what caused his death, but it sounds like it may have been a brain aneurism.  We are so thankful for God's timing though.  We had originally planned to go to Malawi in July but that didn't work out.  This way we were able to be there to help comfort the family.  Especially Shirley!  In her youthful ignorance to the situation, she was her normal, cheerful, funny self.  We truly think she helped lift everyone's spirits.   


The home in Mzuzu


Grandma (abuya) and Shirley's cousin, Chigo


Grandpa (seculu)

When we arrive in Mzuzu and got out of the car, I saw my niece, Chigo, and I started to say hi to her but she ignored me and went right for Shirley!  :)  Then she pretty much stayed by her side the rest of the trip, feeding her milk, playing with her and pretty much being a second mama.  We were happy to have her come along with us on most of our outings.  

We had such a wonderful time in Mzuzu.  We were able to stay for about three days.  We met so much of Kwacha's extended family as well.  They had all gotten back from Granger's funeral the day before and in their culture many people come to the home in order to give their condolences and comfort the family.  Groups from their church, their choir, and many other friends came.  Some would arrive wailing.  After people enter the house they greet everyone with a handshake, sometimes kneeling.  I really love this about the Malawian culture.  Everyone is so kind and respectful.  They truly show their care for each other.


Shirley with Abuya's friends


The lady on the left told my mom and me that she she is Shirley's grandma's best friend.  She talked with us for awhile and told us a little more about Malawian culture.  I really like her!


There were a few times where I didn't know where Shirley was.  On one such occasion I walked outside and found her here.  No need to worry.  ;)


Hanging out with her cousin, Charity

We were able to go on a few walks while we were there.  Kwacha, my mom and I visited Mzuzu University one morning and we saw where Kwacha's aunt used to work.  She was in charge of meals for a large group of people!  Kwacha lived with her for a year on campus so we also saw the little house they lived in.



The place where Kwacha's aunt worked


The house they lived in

Another day we went on a walk with our nieces to the Mzuzu coffee factory.  I don't drink coffee anymore but I'm told it's delicious!  It was fun seeing more of the neighborhood and watching Shirley being carried around in a chitenje by her older cousin, Ruth.  (We like to call her Hite.)





On the last night we were there, Kwacha, my mom and I walked over to the church that Kwacha's parents attend.  A traveling choir from Zambia had come and they had a friendly sing off with the local church's choir...starting around 10 p.m. at night!  One of my favorite things about this was that a number of women had their babies with them strapped on their back, fast asleep!  I loved it.  And their voices are amazing.  I will try and post a video later of their beautiful voices.

It was sad to leave the next day.  We look forward to spending more time with his parents in the future.  Kwacha loves going to Mzuzu because it's a more relaxed place than Lilongwe.  When you want to get away from Lilongwe for a bit, Mzuzu is the perfect place.  



So it looks like I couldn't write all about our trip in one post.  So there's Mzuzu for you!


Monday, September 15, 2014

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