Monthly Archives: April 2010

G’Day, Mate!

Australia, the Land Down Under, is so fabulous it is its own continent!

Australia has given the world some pretty wonderful gifts —  kangaroos, Ugg boots, koalas, vegemite, and the opportunity to randomly yell, “The dingo stole my baby!”

Other treats-to-the-world from Australia include The Wiggles, Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman, Anthony LaPaglia (that actor on CBS’s Without A Trace, to whom if you listen very closely you will hear a slight Australian lilt in his fake New York accent), and Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter.

I was in Australia for about 48 hours back in 1991.  Some customs officials in shorts and ridiculously high knee socks manhandled everything in my suitcase and dumped my undergarments out for everyone to see.  (Not that I hold that against Australia as a nation/continent or anything.  It was totally the fault of a boy named Mike who tried to bring a dead bird into their country. But that’s another story.)

My 48 hours, give or take a few hours, in Australia were filled with very Australian things —  grocery shopping at Woolworths, buying kangaroo-shaped earrings, buying a sarong in an Australian shopping mall, and playing cards while my eventual-husband overflowed a dishwasher with soap bubbles.  Ok, so those aren’t exactly Australian things to do.  I didn’t go on a walkabout.  I didn’t play the didgeridoo.  I didn’t even snorkel at the Great Barrier Reef (which I had the opportunity to do & which is one of my greatest regrets in life).

The one thing I did not experience in Australia —  the one thing I did not know I was missing out on, until recently —  the one thing that I think far surpasses all the previously listed gifts from Australia  —  is the Tim Tam!

Tim Tams are, in their own words, the original chocolate biscuit.  Now, here in the States, we don’t understand the beauty of the word “biscuit.”  I mean, I love our biscuits, all fluffy and buttermilky and smothered in sausage gravy.  But, seriously, our biscuits are not sweet, little, melt-in-your-mouth bits of cookie-deliciousness.  And that is what the Tim Tam is.

Wikipedia describes the Tim Tam with these words, “A Tim Tam is composed of two layers of chocolate malted biscuit, separated by a light chocolate cream filling, and coated in a thin layer of textured chocolate.”  Go ahead, read those words again, let your mouth water.

How did I miss out on this delectable treat during my entire lengthy stay in Australia?  Normally, 48 hours is enough time for me to sniff out the best chocolate treats.  Alas, I have only recently discovered these tasty little biscuits — which is probably just as well since I don’t think I can actually purchase them here in the States.  World Market doesn’t even sell them.  What’s up with that?

So how did I get the one package of Tim Tams that are hidden behind my coffee filters, the one package I will NOT be sharing with my children (I’d gladly give them a kidney, but I am not handing over the world’s best chocolate biscuit)?  Some NTM missionaries from Australia came to do some work with my husband and his department, and they brought these along as gifts.  We should probably consider hosting Australian missionaries on a regular basis.  The admission fee would be a case of Tim Tams.

So, there you have it.  Better than Ugg boots, better than those cute little joeys hopping around, better than Russell Crowe (even if he is one of People’s most beautiful people), better than Outback Steakhouse (c’mon, that’s real Australia, right?) —- Tim Tams, the original chocolate biscuit.

Now, do I have any Australian readers who’d like to make an exchange?  What’s a US treat you can’t purchase Down Under?  Pop tarts?  Reese’s peanut butter cups?  I’ll be happy to mail you some American goodie if you mail me some Tim Tams.

And, from the bottom of my heart, thank you, Australia, the beautiful, vast, continent-country.  Thank you for the original chocolate biscuit.

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Got Your Grammar Geek On?

Ever wonder if you’re a little bit too obsessed with good grammar?

As I was reviewing subjects and predicates with my third grader today and feeling especially giddy, the following thought meandered across my brain, “It’s probably not normal to be this ecstatic that your child is picking out the nouns and verbs so easily.”

With that in mind, I’ve created this helpful little checklist.

The Top Five Signs You Are A Little Too Geeky About Grammar

5.  You mentally correct the grammatical errors of everybody with whom you have a conversation.  Yes, I know it’s completely wrong to judge when a friend tells me her son did “real good” in his soccer game, but my brain cringes when I hear it.

4.  It takes a great effort of self-control to keep from pulling out a red pen and editing the mistakes in church bulletins, play programs, and, especially, letters from teachers.

3.  Approximately 596,438 times a day you say, “‘Brang’ is not a word.”  You actually say that sentence so often, you begin to fear that is the only thing your children will remember coming from your lips.  Well, they’ll also remember, “You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.”  This is why I have to write a blog, so my grandchildren and great-grandchildren will have proof that I really, truly had other thoughts besides the conjugation of the word “bring” and the concept of contentment.

2.  You actually post this as your Facebook status,

Conversation from my home— R: “We did good on our reports.” Me: “‘Good’ is an adjective; ‘Well’ is an adverb. So, you did well on your reports.” R: “Oh, yeah. We just had a test on that in English! And I even did good on that test!” Umm, I give up. 🙂

And the number 1 way you know you are a little too grammatically geeky,

Your 9-year-old is bopping his younger brother on the head with one of those foam swimming pool noodles, and the 4-year old screams, “You hurt me badly!”  If your immediate reaction is great joy that your preschooler used an adverb correctly, then you may need a grammar-geek-intervention.

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I’ve found a new blog to read

You all probably know by now that sometimes I feel like the very worst missionary.  As it turns out, some other missionary already claimed that title.  I guess I’ll have to be the really horrible missionary.  Anyway, I’ve been reading the very worst missionary’s blog.  And I LOVE it!

I especially love this post on wishing and pooping.   You kinda have to read it to get it.  But when you do, I think you’ll love it too.

I’ve been wasting time wishing lately too.  Well, enough of that!

How about you?  What wishes are leaving you empty?  What wishes do you need to turn into pooping, errrr, action?

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The Idea vs. The Reality

So someone recently asked me, “Do you just love what you’re doing there at New Tribes?”  And my honest answer was, “Sometimes.  I really love aspects of it all.  But sometimes I love the idea of what we’re doing more than I love the reality of it.”

Does that make me the worst missionary ever?  Maybe so.

There are aspects of being a missionary, of being a missionary serving at a US location, of being a missionary serving at this particular location that I don’t love.  There are some challenges.  Plenty of character-developing situations, I guess you could call them.

And there has definitely been some adjusting to the smack-in-the-face reality check of the day-to-day, actual life as a missionary not measuring up to the pie-in-the-sky idea of what it looks like to be a missionary.  Did you know that my sin nature did not disappear when I moved here to FL?  And did you know that none of the other missionaries — not even the ones who were “real” missionaries in foreign countries — lost their sin nature either?

Yeah, well, I think there was this itty-bitty part of myself that sorta, kinda expected I would somehow morph into this amazingly godly superhero, MissionaryJenn, as soon as we crossed the state line back in 2007.  But it never happened.

So, yeah, the idea of being a support-staff missionary helping reach remote tribal groups with the Gospel of Christ is wonderfully exciting.  I’m very passionate about that idea.  However, my daily life — my day-to-day activities — are just so not exciting.

I do laundry and homeschool a child and cook meals and shop for groceries and Facebook far too much and pick up toys and nag children about homework and practicing the piano and blah, blah, blah — all the stuff you probably do.  All the stuff I did in Virginia.

And I also lose my cool when the TV is too loud and the chores are only half-done and someone is screaming, “He won’t get out of my room!” and someone else is screaming, “She just pinched me!”  And I walk through Target and covet the flowery tops that are on the corner aisle (the ones that mocked me from the Good Housekeeping photo spread of the floral trend that is all the rage now).  And I still love shoes too much.  And some days I grumble and feel ungrateful for this apartment and the nasty blue carpet that covers my living room/dining room area.  And then I feel guilty because now we actually KNOW people who live deep in the jungle with dirt floors and woven bamboo walls.  And I feel pure hatred for cockroaches palmetto bugs.  And then I feel guilty again because I KNOW people who live with Papua New Guinea cockroaches, which everyone knows make our palmetto bugs look like David next to their Goliath size.

The thing is I am still me.  I mean, I like to think I’ve grown and changed a bit in the past two-and-a-half years; but -for the most part- I’m the same.  I have a lot of the same struggles I had before.  Only, I also have some new ones.  And there’s just no escaping the reality of my own sinful nature and the reality of the difficulty of life.  Life is hard sometimes.

So sometimes the reality of being a missionary at the national headquarters of a mission organization is just not all sunshine and rainbows and fairy dust.  And it’s never as supernaturally spiritual an experience as I’d imagined it would be.

Fortunately, it’s not all about me and my emotional reaction to being here.  To tell you the truth, the day-to-day reality of my life would be the same no matter where I am living or what I am doing.  Because wherever I go, there I am.  There’s no escaping myself.  And if I weren’t feeling ungrateful and crabby about nasty blue carpet in Florida, I’d be feeling ungrateful and crabby about a tiny bathroom in Virginia or cold showers in the jungle or the lack of Reese’s cups in a third-world country.  Let’s face it, if we want to complain, we’ll always find something to complain about.  And sometimes it just feels good to fuss and fume until we get so sick of ourselves we can’t stand it.

And so, with that in mind, I do love what we’re doing here.  I love that it’s not about me.  I love that we’re involved in something bigger than me and my sinfulness.  I love that, in spite of my feeling unimportant and disconnected, God is working, and He is teaching me to be happy that I’m a miniscule, teeny-tiny part of it all.  I love that He has given me a love for the idea of it all.

And I love that He knows me — He knows I get crabby about nasty blue carpet and that I raise my voice when my kids are fussing and that I grit my teeth and take on a nasty tone when my boys throw trash on the floor; He knows that I love shoes too much and that I sometimes read People magazine and that I tend toward materialism when it comes to clothes and cheap jewelry from Kohl’s — and still He loves me, still He called me to be a part of something big He’s doing in the world.  He knows me and He still lets me be a missionary.  And I really love the idea of that!

Because I love the idea of that, I love the reality of His patience and mercy in my life in the day-to-day stuff I don’t love so much.

How about you?  Anything going on in your life that you love the idea of way more than you love the reality of?

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Before The Throne . . .

Tonight I am pondering my guilt, the punishment I deserve, the grace I received, and the One Who took my place.

Earlier, a friend on Facebook posted some of the lyrics to this old hymn.  We sing this in our church, and I cannot make it through this song without crying.  Every single time.

Satan does tempt us to despair and reminds us of the guilt within.  But my sinful soul is counted free.  My life is hidden with Christ, and God’s justice is satisfied.

Before The Throne Of God Above

by Charitie L. Bancroft, 1863

Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea.
A great high Priest whose Name is Love
Who ever lives and pleads for me.
My name is graven on His hands,
My name is written on His heart.
I know that while in Heaven He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart.

When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin.
Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free.
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me.

Behold Him there the risen Lamb,
My perfect spotless righteousness,
The great unchangeable I AM,
The King of glory and of grace,
One in Himself I cannot die.
My soul is purchased by His blood,
My life is hid with Christ on high,
With Christ my Savior and my God!

Is your life hidden in Christ?  Has your soul been purchased by His blood?

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