Friday, July 14, 2017

Quotes by Daniel part 4

That's the biggest storm I've never seen!” Yesterday afternoon as we watched the rain pelt against our living room windows and witnessed the neighbor's flag pole swaying wildly with the strong winds.

Definitely!” when we arrived at Walgreen's yesterday morning after a very long to Daniel 10 minute walk (I think he meant to say “Finally!”)

I think my hair is dry now,” patting the top of his head. “Yes, but with the gel in your hair it still looks like it's wet,” I told him. “It does?” and a big smile lit up his face. And I smiled big on the inside, thinking that our days of excess water to cool his hair were now over.


 “What does I Am Salty mean?” from the back seat of the van in the middle of singing his heart out to “I Exalt Thee.”

If you do a good job, I'll clap for you. If you don't, I won't.” clapping his approval to one of the songs on a Chris Tomlin CD. I'm sure Chris Tomlin would be happy to know that Daniel likes his singing.

That very not make sense to me,” when we read in his Jesus Storybook Bible about the mountains and hills singing praise to God or when we try to work on math problems like 2+___= 5+5.

"Do you pray to God while you're sleeping?" he asked me. "Well, sometimes when I can't sleep, I do. Do you?" "Yes," he answered. "What do you pray about?" I asked him. "I don't know..." he struggled to remember. But I was encouraged by this little window into his heart, to see that he is developing his own relationship with God.

“I need to go to the bathroom. Bad,” as he passed me on the stairs, taking them two at a time. The next thing I know he's calling out, “Mommy. You want to come see?” “See what?” I called back. “I spit,” he answered. When I opened the bathroom door I realized that his two big bowls of Charly's beef noodles for dinner and then my reminding him that he hadn't finished drinking his noodle broth was a mistake. There had been no room at all for the mugful of broth in his overstuffed tummy.

“STICK!” Every time he sees a new one on our walk to/from the school/park he gets super excited. Yesterday I heard him having his own stick conversation as he used one stick to drag another one toward him on the ground. “'Thank you for finding me,' said the second stick. 'You're welcome,' said the first stick. 'That's very kind of you to say.'”

Is Daddy your servant?” I have no recollection of what happened just before that to prompt his question. Maybe I was being bossy without even being aware of it. Since then I've been more conscious of my potential bossiness.

“Nooooooo!” grabbing his arm away from the nurse who wanted to take a blood draw this week. “I'm going to need you to hold his arm down.” The nurse told me. “Daniel, you're getting yourself worried. This isn't going to be so bad. She's going to be really fast,” I tried to calm him down. On the drive home he agreed that it wasn't as bad as he thought. “I can forget about the worrying thing now.”

I think you eat a lot,” pointing to my upper leg, while he was sitting beside me on the couch. “You have a lot of meat!” Hmmmm. This is why I don't often wear shorts, I thought. And then I felt the need to explain to him that in Chinese, the same character refers to meat (in animals) and muscle (in people). It was better to use the word muscle.

No, not really,” his honest answer when my Mom asked him during a skype call this week if he was enjoying being the only kid at home, while David has been spending a fun week with my parents.

“I'm very excited that David is coming home today!” this morning as we walked to his summer school reading class. “I missed him.”


******************************************************
 Linking up with Velvet Ashes this week on the Theme of Top 10
(even though Daniel's most recent best quotes are a few more than 10)



Thursday, July 13, 2017

No More Water

Daniel loves water. In abundance. When he catches sight of me heading to the basement to start a load of laundry, I know I will soon hear the patter of his following feet on the steps. And then his voice full of anticipation, “Can I watch?” I'm not sure why he gets such a thrill out of the water pouring into the washing machine, but he does. And I have to give him a time limit on how long he can stand there before the lid needs to be closed so the spin cycle can begin.

Yesterday afternoon I was lying on the couch with an ice pack and a migraine. Daniel wanted to be in the backyard playing with his sticks while it was raining. After he felt he'd gotten wet enough, he came in. And I told him he could choose a shower or a bath. He chose a shower and was in there a super long time. Recently, I've sort of taken on the role of water police with Daniel because he'll just keep letting the water run when he's washing his hands or filling up his water bottle...

Yesterday though I just could not get off the couch to tell him he'd been in there long enough, so I told myself (multiple times) to relax and let him take as long of a shower as he wanted this time. Finally I heard the water stop. And then a couple of minutes later it started back up again. Then off. Then on again. About five times. What in the world? I can't even. What is it with this boy and water.

And then I heard the bathroom sink turn on. Full force. And off. And on again.

Eventually he came down the stairs. “Hi,” he said as he put his arms through his shirt sleeves to cover his wet upper body.

“What was going on with all the water up there?” I asked him.

“I needed to cool my hair.”

After checking his reflection in the mirror, he ventured back upstairs and turned the light on in David's room.

“What are you doing now?” I inquired when he appeared in the living room again.

“Brushing my hair.” In his hand was a toothbrush that came from an airplane travel bag. (Don't tell David. He's at my parents' this week for his special 12 year old camp.)

“That's a toothbrush!”

He had no clue. He just wanted to cool his hair. So I took this picture of him with his cool hairstyle.


Maybe this boy needs some gel. And then he wouldn't need to use so much water to get the look he's trying for.

Or, what if I just let him use all the water he wanted?

We have a Max Lucado children's book, translated into Chinese called 你所需要的. The English title is All You Ever Need. It's the story of a generous well owner and his son who distribute water to the townspeople. “你要多少就来多少吧!” (Take as much as you need.) They left a man to be in charge of the well while they were gone, and he began to make all kinds of rules on how much water he felt the people deserved. They all got angry with him and complained that they were going to die of thirst. 

Then one day a stranger came to the well, with his head covered. The water manager yelled at him, demanding to know what right he had to get water here. The stranger then uncovered his head to reveal his identity...the well owner's son. His father had instructed him to return to the well in order to distribute water to everyone. The townspeople were relieved to be able to receive their water freely again, but they didn't want the water manager to receive any because of how badly he had treated them. The son challenged them, “如果我只把水给好人,有人喝得到吗?” (If I only gave water to good people, who would be able to drink?)

Everyone can have as much water as they need.

While I want Daniel to learn not to waste water, I also want to stop acting like the water police. When I hear the sound of water running in the house, I don't want my immediate reaction to be, “No more water! That's enough.” I want to be reminded of our generous well owner and his son who delight in giving water to those who are thirsty. And to give thanks that this gift of abundant grace is poured out in Daniel's life. And in mine as well. Undeserved and free.



Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Life as a Muslim Woman in America

What is it like to be a Muslim woman in America today? My friends Nawal and Tasneem, both from Malaysia, graciously agreed to answer my questions about their experiences. It has been an honor for me to get to know them through our Daughters of Abraham connection (a book club designed for Muslim, Jewish and Christian women to grow in our understanding of each other as we discuss faith-related books). I hope that their responses will both encourage and challenge you, as they have had a great impact on me. My heart's desire is that as a global community we would work together to transform Barriers into Bridges.

with Tasneem (left) and Nawal (right) at a Daughters of Abraham picnic

What has been your best experience living in America? Your worst?

Nawal: The best experience living in the US would be to meet new people and to make new friends from all walks of life who had no idea where I was from. To engage in a conversation where people are interested to know about me and my religion is a breath of fresh air. My worst so far would be an account with a man who thought I was part of terrorism.

Tasneem: The best is being able to see more of the world. I’ve always been a traveler, and have lived in 3 different continents before moving to the US. The worst would be Islamophobia and microagressions in daily life.


How does your experience as a Muslim woman in America compare with your experiences in other places?

Nawal: We basically think that we're in a spotlight most of the time. Whenever we hear things on the media about terrorism or another killing by any other Muslims, we will feel that all eyes are on us. But that was how I felt in the beginning of my years in the USA. Now, I don't really feel/experience the "look" from masses anymore.

Living in Malaysia on the other hand, is pretty easy. Since it's a Muslim country, daily rituals are carried with ease (prayers, halal food, etc). There are certain expectations to behave in Malaysia for example: People know that you are wearing hijab so it is not acceptable to ride on a motorcycle with your boyfriend and your skirts can't be adjusted to reveal part of your legs.

Tasneem: I am just shocked by how ignorant some people here are about Muslims and the Islam faith. We are not a monolith - culture plays a huge part in how we live and practice our faith and I think a lot of people forget that.


How are you treated differently when you wear the hijab or not?

Nawal: It really depends on where you are at. The West? The East? Before, we always associate the ones with hijab as quiet, less creative, backward, book smart, less fashionable, traditional, close minded, not outspoken. Those were the misconceptions about hijab wearers. After donning the hijab in 2011, my perceptions have changed and took a 360 degree turn completely. You can be empowering, world changer, creative extraordinaire, basically anything you can be regardless of the hijab. 

Before wearing the hijab, I have men coming to me asking me for my numbers etc. This can be super annoying. After wearing the hijab, that stopped completely. Maybe they were not interested in ladies covering their heads but who cares. Less drama! People that come up to me and talk to me, I feel that they are more genuine and want to know me more as a person and not by how I appear in front of them. It creates more genuine conversation and friendship. In Malaysia, Hijab is so IN! Hijab businesses flourish where one has a vast selection of hijabs and brands. You can look good at the same time guarding your modesty.

Tasneem: In a hijab, I’d been given suspicious looks, and have seen people quickly look away when I look at them, even though I wasn’t doing anything.
It is also amazing how some people would be bashing Islam/Muslims with me standing right there (when I am not wearing a hijab) then suddenly change their tune once they find out I am Muslim. I see you.


What do you wish your non-Muslim neighbors/friends/family understood about you?

Nawal: That I am friendly, happy go lucky human being just like anybody else. We despise terrorism and we are a peaceful community who cares about each other.

Tasneem: That we are just regular people like you – we want a good life, a happy life, space to practice our faith and raise our children, acceptance. That it is not okay for them to tokenize me and my child as their token POC (person of color) friend/family to excuse their –isms.


What is hard for you to understand about your non-Muslim neighbors/friends/family?
Nawal: I pretty much grew up in a very diverse background where we respected each other's norms and traditions. Coming to the USA, I've met and known personally people in abusive relationships and despite how the other party treated them...they kept on being in that relationship. They complained and did nothing about it. This I find hard to understand. People that "enjoy" it.

Tasneem: How they can be apathetic about what is going on in this country, and how they can turn a blind eye to other people’s suffering because it doesn’t affect them directly.


What are your hopes for your own future and that of your husband and children?

Nawal: My hope for my family and my future is that we grow to be strong, caring and loving Muslims who follow the Quran and emulate the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him).

Tasneem: We have freedom to practice our faith without fearing for our lives. May Allah protect us all from any harm, insya Allah.


What are your fears?

Nawal: People losing their empathy and stop educating themselves about issues that evolve around them. The fact that being ignorant is ok.

Tasneem: That bad things happen because ‘good’ people sit and do nothing as the world crumbles around them. Silence in the face of injustice is complicity with the oppressor.


What do you most want to pass on to your children about their identity?

Nawal: Being proud of who they are. Practicing their beliefs with utmost pride and love. I want to provide them a strong foundation that they will take with them that shapes them to be strong, focused, caring for one another and loving towards the environment and God's creation.

Tasneem: That our faith and cultural traditions are the roots to who he is as a person, and he should cherish that. Recognizing his intersectionality is very important as well - he will have his own challenges as he navigates this world, and as his parent, I will be there to guide him insya Allah.


What does your faith mean to you? And what does freedom mean to you?

Nawal: Faith is belief in my creator and belief that He alone is sufficient. Freedom is to be able to practice your religion wherever you are and being able to be who you want to be. 

Tasneem: My faith guides me as I navigate the world. It teaches me I should always be kind to others, and to fight injustice, whether it is inflicted on me or others. Freedom to me means being able to do something without fear of persecution. That we will be able to pray at the mosque, wear our hijab, go for Friday prayers without fear of being harassed, assaulted, or killed.

Related posts:
Crossing Cultures
To Be a Foreigner
When I Was the Foreigner Who Was Welcomed
A Better Understanding

*********************************************************************
Linking up with Velvet Ashes this week on the Theme of Savor 
I am savoring these cross-cultural friendships,
because they help me to grow and to see the world through a different lens.




 

Monday, July 3, 2017

Real Fireworks

After our honeymoon in Colorado 23 years ago, a friend offered Charly and me the opportunity to make some money selling fireworks. The first 8 of our 10 days hanging out in the tent (just off of I-70 in Odessa, Missouri) were pretty boring. We played a lot of Chinese chess to pass the time and waited for that occasional person to show up and make a purchase. The last two days were completely different. We actually had crowds of people—those who had noticed our tent as they drove by during our days-in-waiting and were finally ready to buy their fireworks.

The night before the crowds arrived, we had returned from celebrating our two month anniversary with a dinner date at Stephenson's Apple Farm. Charly's mom and stepdad had stopped by to watch the tent for us while we were gone. We had said goodnight to them, and after staking down the tent securely we climbed into the back of our covered Toyota pickup truck (temporary home).

God then gave us a lightning show that was incredible—God-made fireworks like we'd never seen before. And we were in awe. We pondered the idea that we were selling man-made products to thrill-seekers to make a few explosions, when God could simply speak beauty and power into the the night, to which there was no comparison. This was the real deal.


In C.S. Lewis' The Last Battle, an ape named Shift devised an evil scheme of tying a lion skin to his reluctant donkey friend Puzzle, after they discovered it in Caldron Pool.

Puzzle said, “I don't think it would be respectful to the Great Lion, to Aslan himself, if an ass like me went about dressed up in a lion-skin.”

But Shift insisted and Puzzle, who could never seem to stand up to his intimidating friend, went along.

A good deal of Puzzle's gray nose and face could be seen through the open mouth of the lion's head. No one who had ever seen a real lion would have been taken in for a moment. But if someone who had never seen a lion looked at Puzzle in his lion-skin he might just mistake him for a lion, if he didn't come too close, and if the light was not too good, and if Puzzle didn't let out a bray and didn't make any noise with his hoofs.”

King Tirian heard the news that Aslan had returned, and that he had commanded the Narnian forest to be cut down. Surprisingly, the Talking Beasts were also to become slaves of the Calormenes. Tirian went to see for himself and discovered an Ape, who was speaking on behalf of Aslan. Apparently Aslan was tired of speaking to stupid animals and was waiting inside the tent to pass on his messages to the Ape. The Ape told everyone that Aslan and Tash, the god of the Calormenes, were actually the same.

Tirian said this couldn't be and “meant to go on and ask how the terrible god Tash who fed on the blood of his people could possibly be the same as the good Lion by whose blood all Narnia was saved. If he had been allowed to speak, the rule of the Ape might have ended that day, the Beasts might have seen the truth and thrown the Ape down.”

But Tirian was captured and tied to a tree, unable to warn the Beasts of the great deception they were under. When Puzzle-dressed-as-Aslan made his appearance that night, Tirian was able to see his form.

From where Tirian was he could not make out very clearly what the thing was; but he could see that it was yellow and hairy. He had never seen the Great Lion. He had never seen a common lion. He couldn't be sure that what he saw was not the real Aslan. He had not expected Aslan to look like that stiff thing which stood and said nothing. But how could one be sure? For a moment horrible thoughts went through his mind. Then he remembered the nonsense about Tash and Aslan being the same and knew the whole thing must be a cheat.”

And Tirian called out, “Alsan! Aslan! Aslan! Come and help us now.”

But the darkness and the cold and the quietness went on just the same.”

Let me be killed,” cried the King. “I ask nothing for myself. But come and save all of Narnia.”

And there was still no change in the night or the wood, but there began to be a kind of change inside Tirian. Without knowing why, he began to feel a faint hope. And he felt somehow stronger.”


Strength comes in being able to distinguish the false from the real. The imitation from the genuine. The deception from the truth.

And there is hope in knowing there is something greater out there than our current reality.

We need the discernment that Tirian had, don't we? We can be too much like sheep, easily led astray.

We need discipline to tune our ears to listen for the Shepherd. And then we need determination to only follow His voice, wary of the thief who only wants to steal, kill, and destroy. (John 10)

This morning I read about King Solomon and his building of the Temple. How interesting that he spent 7 years in its construction. And then spent 13 years building his own palace. (1 Kings 7)

God had been pleased with Solomon's request for a discerning spirit to govern well, when offered anything in the world. God then chose to bless him with not only discernment and wisdom, but with riches and honor as well, so that he became famous for miles around. (1 Kings 3)

I wonder how Solomon's life might have turned out differently if he had asked for self-control. 700 wives and 300 concubines seems pretty excessive, doesn't it?

Spending almost twice as long building a palace for himself as he did in building the Temple for the God of the universe may have been a mistake.

Maybe Solomon stopped focusing on God's greatness because he became too enamored by his own.

His life is a reminder to me of the need to distinguish between the real and the false. The genuine and the imitation. The truth and the deception.

The truth is there is only one God, the Creator of real fireworks. And He is not me. 

 


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