I Bathed in Poo Water

Roun’ here yard waste pickup is the second and fourth Monday of the month. I miss this consistently so the black trashcan full of garden clippings, weeds, twigs, vines, several months of rainwater and mosquito larvae sits against the back fence of my jungle-like garden elevated from the ground by a couple of cinder blocks.  Yesterday morning after I kicked my children out the do… I mean, lovingly sent my kiddos to school I went for a walk around the neighborhood. I noticed some neighbors had their yard waste out. I did a quick calculation and thought, FOURTH MONDAY, and hustled home.

When I reached my yard I glanced up and down the street and saw my neighbors had some twigs by the curb. Good, the truck hadn’t come yet. We still had time to drag the can to the corner.

photo 2I knew it would be heavy, it certainly had several months of rain water and rotting yard refuse inside as well as a couple feet of sunflower stalks on top. I just had to get the dang thing down off the cinder blocks and  drag the can a hundred or so feet to the curb. This was the moment, the hideous can of stinky dead stuff needed to go.

I grabbed the handle and gave the can a soft tug and… it didn’t move. The climbing creeper vines from the fence behind it had begun to assimilate the can of yard crap into itself like the Borg. With a determined yank I pulled it off the cinder blocks and with a great kerplunk it plopped onto the grass at my feet.

In an unexpected turn of events a large tidal wave of black, poo scented rain water rose up from the depths of the can, through the tangle of  sunflower stalks and cobwebs and landed on top of my head, all over my right arm and bathed both feet.

After a stunned moment I reluctantly looked down at my body. Black chunks of grossness covered my arm. The black toxic waste-like substance pooled at my feet, squishing between my toes. And the smell, oh, Lord have mercy. I smelled like poo.

And mosquito larvae.

Bring. It. On.

In that moment it was all about me and the poo can of yard waste. It against me. Me against It. And It was not going to defeat me. This was the moment. That was the day. The yard waste was going out. We would never wait for, and forget about, another second or fourth Monday again.

I knew before I could go any further I had to dump the rest of the black, poo water out. The can was heavy and sloshy, and well, it was just plain cruel to leave that for the yard waste pickup guys. The water had to go. I took a deep breath and tipped it over. Gallons and gallons of black water poured into my garden. You can’t defeat me, I thought as I watched it flow, I lived in India for over a decade – I had Typhoid* for goodness sake.

Poo water, you’ve got nothing on me, I thought as I dragged the, now much lighter, can of yard waste to the curb. And that’s the moment I felt it. That’s when the water that had sloshed up on my head began to flow from my scalp in rivulets behind my ear and drip onto my shoulder before trickling down my bosom.

Lt dan 2Is that all you got? IS THAT ALL YOU GOT! I shouted in my head like Lieutenant Dan hanging from the mast and screaming at the storm.

We made it to the curb. I bathed, for real, and scrubbed a lot. In fact, I scrubbed places I may have never scrubbed before. When I walked clean and sparkly (well, at least clean) back into my bedroom I heard the telltale noises of the yard waste truck. It was like heaven in my ears; I feared they would have skipped my house or had already come, but no, here they were. They took it. They took it all! And I photographed them as evidence.

photo 1

Until next time, toxic poo water.

*Typhoid is spread by eating or drinking food or water contaminated with the feces of an infected person. (Super gross, I know)

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Turn It Up!

One of my greatest delights is standing between my children in church and hearing their sweet voices join mine in worship. Now before you get the wrong idea, my two little ones are experts at disturbing these idyllic moments.

The truth is, it’s not unusual for me to lose a child during the worship time. Eventually, I notice one is missing and start glancing around; someone behind me usually catches my searching eye and points under a seat somewhere down the row. I smile my thanks and bend over to remove my child from under the seat and return to singing only to get tapped on the arm by the seven year old asking what does that or this word mean, you know, weird words like “hosanna” and “worthy.” It’s delightful that she wants to know, but this is like the seventh time she’s asked. I once again return to singing and soon realize the five year old is now lying in the middle of the aisle, I whisper loudly to her, “someone’s going to step on your head.” I silently blame myself for forgetting to bring a coloring page and crayon packet once again. At last I hand the little one the pen and “welcome card” from the pocket in the seat in front of her to entertain her.

I wouldn’t change it.

singingNo, mine are most definitely not the perfectly dressed in their Sunday best little girls with white tights and bows in their hair. Mine are the children who look like they dressed themselves (they did) and I am the mom licking my thumb to remove dried icing from the little one’s cheek before she exits for Sunday School – and yes she got it on there by clandestinely licking the icing off her big sister’s cinnamon roll before church. This child seriously needs Jesus.

But it is those brief moments of unified voices in praise with my girls beside me that I cherish. A combined 120 seconds of that? I’ll take it. Joyfully.

Three years ago my daughters and I stepped onto a plane with nothing but the clothes on our backs. We flew across oceans and continents from one country to another. The first six months in the US are still a blur. The girls were not yet in school. The younger two children did not even speak English and the older two were barely bi-lingual. They could not read. They could not write.

But they could listen.

Almost from our first day in the US we listened to a Christian radio station and we learned every song. I consider it the number one most healing influence in our life at that time. Even today, it is all we listen to in the car.

The other day I borrowed my dad’s car to drive my daughter to the dentist. His car’s dial is set to Sports Radio. That, of course, was unacceptable. As I was driving I scanned through the channels, trying to find something a ten year old might like. After about ten minutes of skipping from song to song she said, “Mom, can we put on our regular station?” Gladly.

We might not have a wide variety of songs in our repertoire but there are few things in this life that give me as much pleasure as listening to the sound of my children singing worship songs in the car and hearing them say,

“Turn it up, Mom, this is my favorite one.”

Copyright © Rebecca Onkar, Moms of Faith®, All Rights Reserved

This post was originally written for Moms of Faith®.

Shoulda Been Criminals

lockLast week I was at my parents’ house picking up some things to sell at a yard sale later this month. I thought there might be some things in the basement to sell but when I asked for the key we discovered it was with my dad at his work. We were locked out.

I had my eight year old daughter with me and as we walked back toward the front of the house she asked me for a bobby pin. I happened to have a couple in my hair, so I pulled one out and gave it to her and went inside to talk with my mom.

A few minutes later G. returned and handed me back the bobby pin.

“I couldn’t get it open.” She said.

By this time I started to have an inkling of what she wanted the bobby pin for – the lock on the cellar door. She had tried to pick it and failed.

“Here, you do it.” She said as she handed me the bobby pin.

I don’t know about you, but picking locks with bobby pins is not an experience we were exposed to growing up. Heck, we weren’t even allowed to have our elbows on the table at meals. Suffice to say, we just weren’t a “lock picking” family.

Recently, at 75, my mother was required to get an updated driver’s license photo. One day soon after getting the new picture, I overheard my mom talking to my brother and she said, “I wish I were a criminal, mugshots look better than this. I look like a little old lady in this picture.”

They made her take off her glasses for the photo.

Apparently by living a crime-free lifestyle we’ve missed out. I lack lock-picking skills and may never  again see my 1980s Smurf figurine collection hidden in the bowels of my parents’ basement, and my poor, 75 year old mother is stuck looking like a “little old lady” on her driver’s license.

smurfShoulda been criminals.

 

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What I Found At The End

I have a confession to make. For years I avoided reading the Psalms in my personal devotion time. I think that somewhere in my prideful heart I assumed that the Psalms were for people who couldn’t handle the rest of the Bible. In my mind they had become a kind of “Bible Lite.”

This attitude was full of pride, obviously, and since I’m confessing this to you, you’ve probably guessed that at some point I must have had a change of heart – and you’d be right. It wasn’t many years ago that I reached the end of myself.

Have you been there? The uttermost, absolute end of yourself?

While I stood there at the end–the end of me, the end of me knowing where my life was heading, what my purpose was, what to do and not to do, say and not to say, it was there, in that place of utter desperation and brokenness that I discovered The Psalms.

Oh where had they been all my life? How could I have possibly disdained them? Why did I never devour them before? What a prideful fool I had been.

So there at the end I opened the psalms and I read.

I read one after another and each spoke volumes to my shattered heart. When my prayers had dried and my pain was too deep to find the words to speak I read the Psalms aloud to God, my Savior. The Psalms themselves became my very own words spoken from my heart and through my tears. They were my cries for help. They were my cries of pain. They were my cries of confession. And at last, they were my cries of Hope.

ps

It saddens me that I had to reach the end of myself to discover the beauty and significance of the Psalms. I love the entire Word of God and every verse is precious to me, but no matter what else I read each day in the Word, I always first open to the Psalms.

If you have not yet discovered the joy of reading the Psalms or if your heart is hard, or broken or maybe you’ve run out of words to cry out to God, there is hope. It’s not too late. I encourage you to take the Bible in your hands, open up to Psalm 1 and start reading.

Read day after day until you reach the last one, and when the final verse of Psalm 150 is read, flip back and begin again.

Copyright © Rebecca Onkar, Moms of Faith®, All Rights Reserved

This post was originally written for Moms of Faith®

Not Awesome

Everything is not always awesome. If you’ve been a mother for any amount of time you’ve probably experienced your child being hurt. Not physically hurt, although that happens often enough, but hurt emotionally. Recently my teenage daughter texted me and asked to be picked up early from a school event. Once home she asked me for a hug and cried in my arms for a while.

Feelings were hurt. Kids were mean. My heart breaks.

On those less than awesome days I’ve found that the best thing is to just hug, be there for her, and not try to fix. Can I be real honest here? My flesh urges me to tell her to go upstairs, get a bowl of ice cream and relax in front of the TV, as if that would make it all better. But that is the response of my flesh and the ice cream will provide no real comfort. In these moments, a bowl of ice cream teaches my daughter to find her comfort in something other than the True Comforter.

So while we hug, I pray.

God knows, He saw, His heart breaks too.

I was recently reading the passage in Luke 18 where Jesus told His disciples to let the little children come to Him. How many times have I read that, seen it, heard it? Yet on this particular day I understood something new about our Heavenly Father. Honestly, who among us doesn’t melt at the sight of a newborn or enjoy making a nine month old laugh? Whose heart doesn’t fill with joy while watching the freedom a four year old feels to pirouette through a parking lot or at a ten year old’s excitement and anticipation over the one line she gets to say in the school play?

Our hearts swell with love, often for no other reason than because these precious creatures are children. I forget that God looks at our children and that He also experiences that same warmness and joy that we feel in their presence – but He experiences it in perfection – even better. Then, even so, when our hearts break with our children, it is only natural that we turn to the One whose heart is breaking with us. He is the True Comforter, not just for me in my sorrow, but my child’s Comforter in her own sorrow.

Her sadness is not too insignificant for Him to care.

I must constantly remind myself that my children’s faith journeys are their own to traverse and I am here to guide. The God who comforts the downcast is as much their Father as He is mine. And as I have personally experienced His comfort time and time again, the greatest response I can give to my daughter in her own moment of sorrow is to lead her to The Source of all comfort and The Healer of all wounds, so that when the day comes that I am no longer with her, she can find her way to Him.

Then after a little while, when the tears subside, she and I can share another hug, and maybe a bowl of ice cream.

not awesome

Copyright © Rebecca Onkar, Moms of Faith®, All Rights Reserved

This post was originally written for Moms of Faith®

I Can’t Delete My Grandchildren

I helped my mother “get the pictures off her phone” and on to her computer the other day. I do this periodically for her – after vacations and holidays especially.

She and my Dad had recently taken a trip to Virginia and she took some pictures of my brother-in-law’s college and wanted to send them to him in Arizona. Making a move into the twenty-first century, Mom decided to email them to him rather than print them out and snail mail them. Baby steps.

After connecting the camera to the computer I saw the first pictures start to upload – 779 of them. Dang it. I hate when the computer forgets that it has already uploaded off this camera in the past and doesn’t start from the most recent pics – just a couple dozen since September.

As I sat there waiting for the hundreds of old pictures to upload, knowing I would have to delete 95% of them, I saw a baby picture of my nephew flash past. He’s six now.

When I mentioned the ancient pictures flashing across the screen to my mother she got a little flustered and exclaimed, “I can’t delete my grandchildren!”

Nope. She can’t.

I, however, can delete my children. I don’t like it, but I do it out of necessity – usually because I’ve run out of space and my phone is freezing up on me. It comes down to immediately deleting pictures of my kids or using my phone.

Phone wins. Every time.

I console myself that the pictures I really like I’ve already posted to Facebook and I can always find them. And, hey, since we’ve moved on to digital we take WAY more pictures than ever before – can you say, “selfie?” I can, and my phone is full of them but they certainly are not of myselfie.

selfie

Alright, you’ve twisted my arm; I admit it, I’ve deleted my children and I feel guilty about it.

***

Random Pictures of My Children from My Phone that I Will Probably Have to Delete at Some Point but at least They Are Now on My Blog for All Eternity – or Until the Internet Dies.

delete 1

Delete 2

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10 Reasons I Appreciate Teachers or…

Why You Couldn’t Pay Me Enough to Teach in School

10 teacherz

1. Stinky Children. Have you smelled a child’s breath in the morning? Do you know where those hands have been? I do. I know these smells All. Too. Well, my friends. I live with children. I know what they smell like. It’s not good. If I get 50% of my children to brush their teeth on a given morning – it’s a GOOD day. Poor, poor teachers. I deeply apologize.

2. Interruptions. I’ve taught enough small children over the years to realize that it is nearly impossible to get through anything without being interrupted. In fact, I have my own children to prove this theory. This morning as we were getting ready to leave for school I said, “Ok, everyone be quiet, we’re going to pray.” Just like we do every morning. As I take a deep breath and my lips are forming the “D” in “Dear Jesus,” my seven year old says, “Did you put my water bottle in my bag?” “Yes, close your eyes and stop talking we’re going to pray. D…” “Did you put my snack in my bag?” <deep breath> “Yes. close your eyes and stop talking we’re going to pray. De…” “Is it Halloween today?”

Lord have mercy, she did it FOUR times. In the end I had to have the five year old pray because I was too aggravated to talk to the Lord in that moment.

God bless teachers.

3. Stories. Wouldn’t it be nice to live in a world where you could just tell a random story of your choosing about an irrelevant incident that happened in your life whenever the spirit moved you? Welcome to Childhoodville. Random. Random stories out of left field, probably when their teacher is trying to explain math or something. You have got to shut them down and move on, or the random storytelling will take over your life, I mean, classroom.

4. Farting. Let’s get real, Everybody farts. This includes the people who claim they don’t fart. They do. However, back in the day when I was in school, no one farted in school– or at least admitted to farting. Once, when I was in 9th grade the kid behind me accidentally farted loudly during class. With a “W” last name I was in the far back, left corner with just one seat behind me. In an instant, every single head in that classroom whipped back to our little corner of the room. In mortal fear that someone might think that I had committed the fart, I quickly turned around and glared at the kid behind me who sheepishly shrugged his shoulders as if to say, whoops. At least he manned up and owned it.

These days farting seems to be the “in” thing. I got on the bus with the 5th Graders to chaperon their class trip and before my buttocks hit the green faux leather bench, I smelled it. Stinky, unmistakable fart smell. On the crowded bus. Really? Sigh.

My five year old is always loaded. And she is unashamed. When I ask her if she does it in school she claims she doesn’t, but I’m not so sure. For a little person, she is super gassy and I don’t even know why. I can’t imagine what I’m feeding them to cause the gas buildup; it’s not like they eat vegetables or anything…

5. Questions. Ridiculous questions. Questions like, “What do you call 100 twins?” And they expect an answer, as if that’s a thing. And they won’t ask you once, they’ll ask you 400 times, apparently forgetting the 399 times they already asked you the same thing.

If teachers haven’t been driven just a little bit insane I’d be very, very surprised.

6. Discipline. Call me crazy, but I just like to work in a world where people are adults and it’s not my job to correct them.

7. Cleaning. God bless them again, but there are some teachers who even clean up their students. Imagine it’s winter and seated before you are twenty sweet and shiny faces; shiny with florescent yellow snot logs hanging just above their upper lip. The remaining log-less students’ nostrils are filled with enormous snot bubbles or crusty boogers. Bring on the tissues. And rubber gloves. And Clorox wipes. And Airborne.

Bless you teachers. Bless you.

8. Whining. Maybe this only happens at home? Somehow I doubt it. Whiners gonna whine.

9. Repeating. As in, “Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, Moooom, Mom…” Although I suppose in school it is something along the lines of, “Teacher, Teacher, Teacher… or Mrs. Fillintheblank, Mrs…” You get where I’m going with this… (refer back to my insanity comment.)

10. I’m leaving #10 blank for a Fill it in Yourself Competition. There is no prize other than my eternal gratitude for your understanding and empathy; for the teachers – not me, I wouldn’t do that job for a million bucks.

***

It must be a calling. I cannot imagine why someone would willingly submit themselves to the stinks and sounds of a small child classroom environment if they weren’t on a mission of some kind. There just isn’t enough money in the world. All I have left to say is, whatever teachers are being paid, it isn’t nearly enough.

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Longer than the Line for Snow Crab Legs at the Chinese Buffet

I dragged myself out of bed this morning a few minutes late, so while I was still brushing my teeth my daughter came in to the bathroom, sat down on the toilet and proceed to tell me her Once Upon A Time (TV show) related dream from the night before. Every. single. detail.

sigh

My children all tend to be long-winded – it may be related to the fact that English is not their first language so the older ones struggle with being concise; however, if I’m honest with myself, I fear they get their long-windedness from me.

I was a long story teller as a child, as my brother likes to remind me. I especially liked relating every plot detail of a movie that I had recently watched to my captive family (usually in the car.)

tarzanWhenever one of my children starts in on a long story I think, this is for all those times I subjected my family to the entire storyline of an ancient Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan movie or something grotesque I watched on Saturday morning’s Theater Bazaar.

Actually, I think all your bad habits from childhood get rained back down on you when you are a parent. Wet towels on the bed? I can still clearly remember getting punished for leaving wet towels on my bed around age twelve. I wasn’t allowed to watch TV for a week. This was lauraespecially painful because I was watching Little House on the Prairie and my no TV week fell right when Laura and Almanzo were falling in love. Dang it. I was sorely disappointed to miss the best part and I surely learned my lesson. No more wet towels on the bed.

As I walk through my house each day picking up towels from beds and floors and the living room couch, I think, yep, I did this to me.

To my mother and to anyone I ever subjected a long tale of a movie plot (or if I left a wet towel on your bed), you’ll be happy to know, it’s all come back to me. All. come. back. to. me.

And then some.

On the upside, at least the kids are bathing…

Five-Minute-Friday-4

This post was inspired by the word, LONG, and was written alongside of a whole bunch of other bloggers writing for Five Minute Friday. Link up here.

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That Person

I’ve become that person.

I’m not exactly sure what elements in my life have banded together to create this person that I have become but I think living in third world countries and being a single mother have certainly contributed.

Long story short: Last night I took my iPad to a kiosk in the mall to be repaired. Over the summer the glass got stepped on, broke and I subsequently tried to fix it at home. Bad idea – I messed up the wifi receptor and had to have it replaced.

After being thoroughly rebuked by 16 year old Ron at the kiosk, “In the future, never try to fix this at home.”  I was given a quote of $65 to replace the wifi thingy and to clean off some remaining adhesive and restick the glass. Thirty minutes to fix.

Thirty minutes later he hadn’t even started. I had all four kids with me. In the mall. sephThey had already raided Sephora and were covered in make-up. Loads of kid homework and exhaustion were looming at home. The best decision seemed to be: go home and pick up the repaired iPad the next morning. Young Ron said that was fine and that, no, I did not need a receipt.

This morning when I returned to pay, a different man charged me $75 for the job. $75. WHAT! I was quoted $65. The man talked to the kiosk owner on the phone again and again but the owner refused  to budge on the price.

There was nothing left for me to do but wait. I was told the boss would be there in person in 20 minutes. *I seriously considered plopping down $70 in cash ($65 + 7% sales tax) and taking my iPad and leaving. If he said anything I was going to reply, “Arrest me!” and walk off. But the ATM only gave out $20s.*

I knew the owner wouldn’t be there in twenty. Still, I stood right there in front of the guy at the kiosk for 20 minutes. He became increasingly uncomfortable. Then I waited 10 more minutes and when the guy still would not charge me $65 for the repair, although I asked him, I spoke to a security guard and asked where I could make a complaint.

$10

I want my ten dollars!

While I was writing out the complaint at Guest Services, the owner finally arrived. He had kept me, a customer, waiting for 40 minutes. For $10. The owner then called Ron and asked how much he had quoted me the night before (wait, couldn’t the boss have done this 40 minutes ago?) The owner hung up and charged me $65.

I own my own business. The amount of money that I could have made in those 45 minutes at the mall had I been working is MORE than the $10 I was fighting for. I actually lost money. But, you see,  I have become that  person. I knew I was being scammed. The owner of the kiosk assumed that I would grumpily pay the extra $10 in order to move on with my life. He was wrong.

He had no earthly idea that he was dealing with that person, although he probably has a more colorful name for me.

I suppose Single motherhood, Being a woman and Vast experience overseas in bargaining and rip-off techniques have formed me in to that person. I stood up for my ten dollars. I stood up for all our ten dollars. In the end, I felt really good.

Kind of silly that I just wrote about my “Good Morning” Mission yesterday. Oh well,  you can follow the crazy on bloglovin’

Because I Remember

I hope because I remember.

I didn’t want to walk through the fire. To stay there for months and years on end. But the fire was where I found God.

I didn’t want to be bound. To kneel before God, the Almighty Judge, and plead for deliverance day after day. But in my bondage I found sight and saw Him clearly.

I didn’t want to be pitied. To be in need of charity and assistance. To have my life scrutinized and examined. In my pitiable state I found grace and learned of its power.

I have not forgotten and because I remember, I hope.

And those who have hope, survive.

romans 5

Today’s post was inspired by:

Five-Minute-Friday-4Five Minute Friday, Link up here. 

TuesdayTuesday at Ten, Link up here.