Attitude Adjustment and Sleep Deprivation

Tacka, tacka, tacka, tacka

My apartment feels as if it is shaking. In my dreamlike state my confused brain thinks I’m stuck in the middle of an epic gun battle. It’s loud. It’s annoying. I want to scream.

The noise subsides. I start to slip back into peaceful slumber.

Ahhhh. Ahhhh. Wahhhhhh.

Awoken again, the fog in my head clears as the cries grow increasingly louder. This time I’m fully aware of the noisemaker. Little Bear lets me know he is not happy.

Once again the walls shake, tacka, tacka, tacka, tacka. Ahhhhh. Ahhhhh. Wahhhh.

Thankfully I’m still in my pajamas and bath robe or else I might take my sleep deprived body and my screaming baby on a witch hunt to find the offending party who can’t seem to properly balance their washing machine.

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. [ ] I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it. And so it is with you… we are in charge of our attitudes. – Charles R. Swindoll

To be honest there are a lot of mornings (and middle of the nights) I deliberately choose to be cranky.

As in Little Bear wakes up crying.
Husband: Are you going to get him?
Me: NO
Husband: Do you want me to get him and bring him here?
Me: NO (Pulls blanket over head.)
Husband: Then what would you like?
Me: I JUST WANT HIM TO SLEEP! (Reluctantly gets up to get crying Bear.)

This approach is very counterproductive. But… sometimes I just like to wallow.

Yet, it doesn’t win me more sleep or peace. I still have to get up and I’m awake the entire time he’s crying unlike my husband who can consciously decide to turn off his ability to hear. It doesn’t make me feel better. Mostly I feel guilty. I feel guilty for biting off my husband’s head when he is only trying to help. I feel guilty for ignoring my child when I know he needs a cuddle.

Next time I hope I can choose to react a little more sweetly, a little more calmly and a little more rationally. Although a little more sleep would definitely help my ability to choose!

(PS: It’s a good thing I didn’t go on that “witch hunt” since the source of the obnoxious banging noise wasn’t a washing machine at all but a pump on the roof! Thankfully our caretaker is working to fix it.)

This Ordinary Life

I’ve got nothing.

My creative juices have gone out the window along with all the sleep I thought I would get now that my body is once again (sort of) my own and I can sleep on my stomach because there is no longer a little person inside.

Instead that little person is now outside demanding my attention. My brain functions at too low of a level to come up with inspired and witty blog posts when it is only allowed 3 to 4 hours of sleep at a time.

Sorry my dedicated blog readers but the tank is empty. I am run dry. (Hence the lack of posts this past month.)

I could tell you about the mundane aspects of my life but I’m not sure they make for a good post. Today I managed to change multiple diapers (thankfully no dirty ones!), feed the little guy quite frequently and feed myself, if popcorn and a tangerine count. I scanned receipts and filed reimbursement claim forms. I washed two loads of clothes and even made my bed.

Although I’m in my “comfy” clothes (over-sized sweatshirt and yoga pants), at least I changed out of my pajamas. The kitchen is a mess but I have every intention of washing the dishes if Baby D ever decides to take a nap. The refrigerator needs to be restocked but thankfully it is Tuesday which means two for one pizza night. That will buy me a little more time.

I’m sure I have more to share, like how my hair is combed but I just remembered that I forgot to brush my teeth. However, I have a play date with some multi-colored elephants and a cutey pie who is squealing for some attention. So for now, I’m going to enjoy this very ordinary life!

Cleaning and Scrubbing

His whimpering cries grow louder with each passing second. In frustration I look to the clock knowing he awoke too early. My mind races with all the tasks I hoped to accomplish while he slept. Meanwhile the cries crescendo into wailing. Softly I sneak into his room trying to remain undetected, hoping he will simply fall back to sleep. His balled fists pound the bed and his eyes pop open locking with mine.

Sigh. I’ve been spotted. No turning back now.

Zipping open his tent, I gently pull him out and snuggle him close. His pudgy little fingers grip my sweater holding on for dear life as his tears wet my shoulder. Back and forth, back and forth, we rock. Pat, pat, pat. Shhh. Shhh. Shhh. He quiets down, tear-filled eyes wide open.

I’m tempted to grab my phone, look at my to-do list or check emails. As I reach out my hand I’m reminded of a cross-stitched poem that hung in my grandmother’s house.

Cleaning and scrubbing can wait ’til tomorrow
For babies grow up we’ve learned to our sorrow,
So quiet down cobwebs and dust go to sleep
I’m rocking my baby, and babies don’t keep.

I switch my phone to silent letting the world stop for just a few moments and resume my patting. His little head grows heavy slipping to my chest. His fists soften and begin to fall to his side. Back and forth, back and forth, we rock. Pat, pat, pat. Shhh. Shhh. Shhh. His worries fade. He drifts into sleep, safe and secure in his mother’s arms.

Isn’t it the same with my Father? Put down your worries my daughter. Rest securely in my arms, “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you.” Isaiah 66:13

It’s all about me… but really it’s not

Maybe I thought becoming a missionary automatically wiped clean my selfish desires. I left behind family and friends. I gave up a teaching career, something I love. I committed to learning new languages and feeling like an outsider in new cultures. And seriously… I walked away from Twizzlers and Cheetos. Smooth roads and easily accessible grocery stores are a thing of the past, all because I sacrificially gave my life to Christ and “allowed” Him to send me overseas.

Right?

Wrong. Dead wrong.

One thing my son’s birth has taught me over and over is just how selfish I am. As another friend put it,

Parenting would be so much easier if I wasn’t so selfish!

Feedings come at the most inconvenient times. (And can make me feel like a cow.) They occur just when dinner is ready, at restaurants, during meetings, at church, in the middle of the night and a host of other places or times that I don’t wish to accommodate the little guy. If I don’t oblige quickly enough he begins to exercise his lungs to an embarrassingly high volume. Embarrassing, because it feels as though it reflects upon my ability (or inability) as a mother!

Because really… it’s all about me.

He cries. A lot. I never know what his cries mean and it is frustrating. Is he hungry? Sleepy? Does he need to burp or pass gas down the other end? This leaves me, a normally fairly competent woman, feeling helpless. I don’t like that feeling.

My world revolves around his bodily functions and it grosses me out. I have been peed on. His spit up is frequently on my clothes. And I’ve narrowly missed a poo bomb. And that’s just this past week.

I have to drink more, take vitamins and fish oil supplements (which are nasty) eat healthy and skip out on my usual amounts of sugar and caffeine.

My sleep is constantly disrupted. That makes me cranky.

Because really… it’s all about me. Except it’s not.
These statements have a commonality… I, I, I. It’s time to let go of “I”.

MohawkMy new little man has taught me more about selfless giving and serving than any other person in the world and he’s only one month old! I guess God is still preparing me for missionary service. I definitely don’t have a handle on it yet.

Gooster

Goose smallGoose has been a bit different from the start. Unlike most of the cats in Malakal that have a very healthy fear of humans, Goose made his way to us without coercion when he was no bigger than the palm of my hand. He is playful and sweet; good combinations for making a fabulous “cat-dog”, not so good for his well-being in the great outdoors.

Goose is a vocal one. It’s how we found him in the first place. We heard his incessant crying from the church compound next door from our house. We simply followed the sound of his voice. He stalks us at dinner time and loudly broadcasts his desire to help us eat the meat we cook. (He loves Ethiopian food!) He announces his presence whenever he enters a room and constantly “talks” to himself even when no one else is around.

For his rabies vaccine we transported him in a black computer bag to the UN Veterinarian office. His mewing, complaining and caterwauling notified every passerby that yes, indeed these two crazy ‘kawajas’ were carrying an uncooperative, unhappy cat as they walked down the road. This was the first of many trips inside our makeshift cat carrier and he hasn’t warmed to it yet!

Goose and SpriteWe tried teaching him to wrestle and play. He seemed on the right track as he quickly took to stalking any little thing that moved, including our toes. He rough houses with other stray kittens that make their way into our yard and viciously attacks the swarms of grasshoppers.

He even tasted a frog before realizing that they didn’t go down too well, or rather they come back up…

Lizard biteHe progressed to full-sized Southern Sudanese lizards, wrestling and flinging them around. Just the other day he got a taste of their fury. During one of his attacks the lizard fought back, either by excreting some sort of poison or by biting the side of Goose’s face. Other than a little yelp Goose didn’t seem to mind but it left a hairless patch of skin and a scab; a semi-permanent “beauty mark.”

Unfortunately though, he is not the only cat with access to our compound. We continually chase these other cats away but usually not before Goose receives some sort of beating. He is too sweet natured to defend himself. Up till now he has stayed within our fence. We have been able to offer some protection but this week he got too adventurous. He left our compound in the night and didn’t return for a full day. We still aren’t sure how he managed to limp his way back as his hind legs were swollen, bloody and torn.

So once again we packed him up, except this time in a box, and carted him to the veterinarian’s office. Once again we were a source of amusement for the Sudanese on an otherwise ordinary, boring day of tending to medical problems of cattle, sheep, goats and donkeys. Once again Goose, proving how low his pain tolerance is, scratched, clawed and bit as they injected him with pain killers and antibiotics. Nevertheless once again Goose proved how resilient he is by bouncing back to his cuddly, sweet self within hours.

What I’ve Got

Is what I’ll give.

A woman came to our missions table to speak with us. Pulling me aside she told me a bit about her life, took a prayer card and left.

In just a few minutes she came back with a shopping bag. Inside was a shirt.

“A shirt?” – Not exactly what I was expecting!

God moved her to give an offering from what she had. Humbled at her thoughtfulness, I wear it knowing she cheerfully gave to the Lord from the depths of her heart.

God tells us to “let each one give as he purposes in his heart” and that He “loves a cheerful giver”.

The poor widow gave her “two mites”. Lydia and her husband opened up their home to Paul. The believers in Acts sold their possessions and goods, dividing them among any who had need.

We receive a salary supplied by God’s people. As part of their offering to Him they give each month so we can continue to live and work in a foreign land ministering to the people there.

From the bottom of our hearts, THANK YOU, for being cheerful givers!

Dirty Jobs

The Boy has a wonderful bond with his nephews. He quickly found his way into their hearts. They ask him to kick the ball, wrestle, go to the playground, play Legos, race cars and swim in the pool. They always want him to do the BIG splashes.

(His cannon balls have quite the impact!)

However with best bud privileges, come other… not so fun responsibilities.

When the little guy needs a diaper change he always wants The Boy to do it. And when he wanted to go potty like his big brother, The Boy is the one to supervise. Best bud also means cleaning up the messy faces and mud smeared boogers.

That’s just dirty.

But…it means he gets to do the really fun ones too, like read Dr. Seuss books, be the tickle monster, kiss booboos and snuggle them to sleep.

Today he sat in the big Popazon chair to settle the little guy down. Older brother decided he wanted to take a nap with Uncle too. All three boys cuddled up in the chair; the older two pretending to sleep (snores and all!) so the younger one would actually go to sleep.

“Dirty jobs” always seem to go hand in hand with the really cool ones don’t they?

Even in ministry.

Sometimes we get discouraged. Or stressed. We get sick… sometimes a lot. We have to take nasty medicine. Sometimes there are unfortunate side effects. There is paper work to do… occasionally it piles up. We get lied to and stolen from. We get disillusioned.

And sometimes our attitudes need adjustment.

Because even with all the awesome jobs of ministry we let the “dirty jobs” sneak in and steal our joy. Then we need to be reminded again of those cool things. Things like, getting hugs from students, discipling a young believer, knowing our airplane saved a life through a medical evacuation receiving sweet letters of encouragement or packages from supporters, changing lives with the Gospel and so many more.

Ever been there?