viernes, 22 de abril de 2011

The mystery of who I am.

Turning around the sunlit corner, the stroller wheels bumbled up and down the cricks and crannies on the broken sidewalk. The birds cut through the morning silence, screaming for rain water to satisfy their thirst. A soft hot wind kissed my cheeks, and the smell of the last dry days reminded me that the beating sun was worth every second. It was "Holy Friday", an opportunity to have a break from normal routine, and the weekend following was just like every other weekend. It implied family time, grocery shopping, church on Sunday and hopefully a nap or two. The smell of summer danced around the drying grass, and the desire to devour miel de chiverre, pan casero, fresco de mango, and rice pudding flooded my mouth as Joseph, the dog and I ventured towards home.

But my Mom's words from her last email kept echoing in my head, that we would "enjoy our Easter weekend". Amongst the spiderwebs of recollection, I tried to catch a glimpse of what Easter used to imply when I was younger. It was almost like that part of me didn't exist anymore. When did I forget? Time transpired and hid the past under years when all those traditions and customs were exchanged for others. It´s been eight years almost since I came in obedience to serve in a land that without knowing would become my home away from Home.

I had no expectation for this weekend, no family tradition, no warm fuzzy, no special plans. When did it all that change for me to find this way the normal way and not the other way around?

In cross-cultural adaptation, there comes a time (sometimes multiple) when your values are challenged and you redefine who you really are. Depending on the person's experiences with other world visions and viewpoints, a monumental point lies on the conscious reality that "my way isn´t the only way, nor is my way always right". On one side of the coin, a part of me that will never be erased is the love and effort my parents invested in creating positive expectations for us as childrensurrounding certain holidays. Easter weekend implied special church services, certain lyrics, new Sunday dresses, painting eggs, the smell of spring, irises and daffodils, easter egg hunts around the back and front yards, easter baskets full of surprises from the easter bunny, and a special outing to a family restaurant. And who could forget Mommy´s flowers from Daddy, and the battle to pin the crossage on her before church. Right before church there was always the family photo, usually with one or two of us indisposed to smile. All of this swirled around celebrating Jesus´ resurrection and His dwelling in us after dying on the cross.

That used to be the way. The only way it always was. The "right" way. Then God allowed me to see another reality to the same dates in a Latin American spectrum: family reunions, food coming out the ears, trips to the rivers and the beach, hot blue skies, processions, everybody scurring at the last minute to celebrate, religious movies on tv, and constant murmurings about semana santa. Little by little, the former expectations deteriorated into broken pieces that eventually were all over the floor with the new pieces in the name of tradition. Which would I pick up? Which would I throw out? Which would be part of new tradition?

So now our family is in a growing point: to create the customs and traditions we wish to inherit our children. We are not just one color, nor two, but a myriad of pieces that now have the opportunity to become our family´s.

Part of our inheritence to our children is to belong to a church body of loving Christians with whom we can celebrate God´s Word and a relationship with our Hevaenly Father through the sacrifice of the Son of God, Jesus Christ. While we were yet sinners, Chirst died for us. God so loved this world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. If we confess our sins He is faithful and just the forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. For it is by grace we have been saved through faith. These truths were written so we may be saved and restaured to our original purpose, and that our children, whether spiritual or biological, may also know Him and make Him known.

May we seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all other things will be added by He Who is the One who defines who I am and Where I am from and Where I am going.

So as a family we decided to come home after church and eat a chicken dish together as a family, when a dear family close to our heart invited us to an Easter lunch with their good friends and contacts. What a joyful surprise to share the joy we have in Chirst Jesus with those we love and we have near. May you remember who you are, irregardless of the circumstances.

sábado, 9 de abril de 2011

God´s mystery- Joseph´s fascination with things that disappear and reappear

I realize that for a long time I hadn´t written, but that doesn´t verify that nothing was occuring during those months. Finally, God has given me the momentum that I was eager for: a determination to bridge the gap of communicating God´s testimonies in, through, and around our family.

As of today, after reading up on child development, I realized that peek-a-boo is more than a childhood game. It is an entire process of founding truths about a baby´s perception of the world around him or her, they are discovering that things that disappear don´t leave forever, if not they realize they can reappear and hence when they discover that truth, they begin looking for them when taken from their sight.

As parents, there is a special awe about your children making these discoveries, it opens up your worldview to almost a rediscovery of so many pure and simple joys in life: like delighting in someone else´s gain. Today, we couldn´t help but video Joseph Abraham and he´s sheer delight of Daddy´s animal sounds with a pop-up toy from Grandma Carol. Such are the moments I hope to treasure in this lifetime to carry us through the tough parts.

Enjoy his reaction. It is totally Joseph (when excited he jerks his whole body and eventually squeals at the top of his lungs). Hope you are inspired to rediscover some of these simple revelations only God can bring.

Seven and a half months

So Joseph has made a very special friend- Precious Calina who visits on ocassion with her family to the Branham household. She has been such a helper with Joseph entertaining him and teaching him so much about caring for others, she really is a great example at such a young age! God has never ceased to marvel me by how He provides windows of opportunity to build relationships and how He provides for Joseph´s needs.

jueves, 7 de abril de 2011

Seven months

To be honest, I don´t know where the time even went this month, but I can tell you that he is sitting on his own, doing the worm where he pushed up on his hands and feet and sticks his caboose in the air, pushing himself into a crawling position and rocking forwards and back, and just a few days ago began putting out one hand and picking up his opposite knee and then he just got stuck. It´s hard not to laugh out loud with his discoveries.

He is eating all kinds of goodies and I have fallen in love with making him food. He´s tried things like: potato, sweet potato, carrot, watermelon, cantalope, mango, apple, rice and oatmeal cereal, chicken, chick peas, spinach, orange and yellos squash, banana, etc. There hasn´t been one thing he hasn´t liked, except he did make funny faces all through the lentiles (hahahahahaha, it makes me smile just thinking about it.). This is probably a Mama data, but he is also doing good with his bowel movements. He seems to be pushing hard since this afternoon so I will watch hima nd keep his diet lighter than normal. He hasn´t had an allergic reaction which is a blessing from the Lord.

He has been babysat almost once or twice a week for brief periods and seems to do great with the separate time from Mommy. He is about to hit the age where most babies struggle with separation anxiety, but my prayer is that we breexe through it. He is a pretty sociable and personable baby.

He is babbling alot more, your guess is as good as mine if it is English or SPanish hahahaha. He enjoys interacting with Daddy when he talks in Spanish, so we will enjoy watching him develop his bilingualness gradually.

He is teething the top teeth and has been running a low fever and pretty cranky in the evenings. The oral gels and baby tylonal have been a lifesavor. He doesn´t care ofr teething rings but loves to chew on just about everything else. We are teaching him not to dig his two bottom teeth into people´s shoulders. It sure hurts, but I prefer it over biting my breast while nursing.

He is growing so fast and weighing so much. I am so proud of our little man. He loves dogs and he loves noises of all kinds. He is a very observant baby and expresses himself very clearly. He is low-strung, a lot like his Daddy, and has his Mommy´s smile. He´s a baby everyone enjoys squeezing on a regular basis.
Well family, we´ve come a long way from the home from the hospital pictures. I would like to iterate that exploding diapers, abundant spit-up waterfalls and crankiness before naptime were of the past, but those special moments seem to come with the trade. Fortunately, Joseph doesn´t mind being dirty while Mommy and Daddy get their act together in finding creative ways to get him cleaned up.

So I thought halfway through month five that there wouldn´t be much to tell, but boy, was I wrong! Baby Joseph is weighing in at a little over 8 and a half kilos (close to twenty pounds I presume?). Our chunky monkey grows Popeye muscles on just about anyone. He is healthy, happy and hit a few milestones this month, all super exciting for the first time parents. In fact, we probably should have video taped our reactions to him doing things, it just might have won the grammy.

This month started with Feburary 10th he stuck his two feet in his mouth, and ever since then trying to change his diaper is all about the strategy of doing it before his feet get glued to his pucker upper. February 17th at 10:30 a.m. he rolled over from belly to back twice in a row, hasn´t started doing it constantly, but he gave us a fair warning that things are picking up the pace now. He likes to rock himself pushed up on his arms back and forth, and before you know it- boom botta bang! He´s over on his back again. February 24, he was crank and clingy alllllll day (we were both pooped) and come to find his first bottom tooth is piercing his gums! Hasn´t quite come in officially, but we are now teething! Drool city, ere we come! I have busted out the bibs in a feeble attempt to keep his dry, hahahaha, primary to help him not get that nasty heat rash over his double chin again. Oh, the life of a hefty one.

So inevitablly, everything officially goes to the mouth, he has fallen in love with his teething rings and books. We have some smaller and thicker ones that have bright colors and he absolutely loves reading together. My favorite part is when I open a book and he starts babbling at it- imitating Mommy "reading".

He has learned to reach out for things and manipulate rattles and syncronize his hands together to draw something close to his face, he also likes to open and close his hands to feel the different textures of things (which means it is easy to know when his nails need to be trimmed). He still laughs when I clean his nose, when we play horsey, and when we sing patty cake and the itsy bitsy spider. He likes the roll over song too.

Joseph is quite flirtatious with the ladies. On buses he likes to peel one of his heart melting grins and enjoys cooing at them also. In fact, in his first blood test for his medical record, he flirted through the entire test with the nurse (who was so tender with him). He ended up crying because I had become tense and was holding a little too tight his arm for the nurse to draw the blood, but we made it! He thought the whole thing was amusing.

We officaly finished off the donated diapers and clothing and are entering into a phase of trusting God for His provision and to fill Joseph´s needs, thank God for His lovingkindness towards us. Can you believe for the first 4 months we didn´t need to buy diapers, wipes, hygiene articles nor clothing? God is so good!

This month God touched a family close to our heart to bless Joseph with an activity chair and blanket, they have been fun activities to help develop his motor skills and muscle coordination. And Mommy and Daddy get some extra time to pull everything else together meanwhile.

Joseph still takes two to three half hour to an hour naps, in fact this was written courtesy of his morning nap which has been an almost two hour shin dig, thank the Lord for good naps.

We have started up finding a babysitter for Friday evenings, and it has worked out really well. Joseph sleeps at home while Mommy and Pappy go to Couple group. A healthy situation for all the family. It is amazing how much marriage benefits from those brief times together just the two of you.

We have made it to the six month point exclusively with breast milk. Pretty soon we will start to introduce some starches like potato and some others little by little to supplement breastfeeding. Joseph si doing great and has his next appointment this coming Thursday at 1:30p.m.

We continue to organize ourselves with the ministry and training the leaders in the communities who will be in direct contact with the families and the children. We are so thankful for all we have experienced this month.

He rolled!

February 18th, 2011

How is everyone doing? We pray you are well. Yesterday while I was in a prayer meeting with my mentor, Joseph pushed his torso up while on his belly and starting rocking back and forth. I thought it was so cute. Then today around 10:30 am, I was talking to Daddy on the phone and looked down and he had rolled right side up! He had been scooting and sliding which they call reptiling in Spanish. So I squealed and Daddy freaked out and Grandma came in to see him do it again!!!!! I am working on a video and then see if we can post it so you can see it, he´s a little shy of the camera still (you know, that black box with the little red light that covers up Mommy and Daddy´s face? Who wouldn´t be shy?)

Five months

Yauzzah! How time does fly!

I would like to preface this email with my necessity to write before five months so that I actually might remember more of the fuzzy details, something about becoming a mother makes you understand yours from a whole new perspective. How did Mom do it with Mommy brain, a husband and five little chick peas in toe? only God knows how she even got dinner on the table and everybody bathed and into bed at a decent hour.

His cry has changed, he has a cry for when he is hungry, wet, bored, scared, etc. It is quite comical to disifer, kind of like sherades but it seems to just be my game to play.

He has hit the bend in the road of everything has become amusing: he laughs at everything when he is in a good mode or just recognized Mommy or DADDY´S ATTENTION. He loves patty cake, the itsy bitsy spider, especially the part when the sun comes out and Mommy´s face appears, when we tickle him under his chin or on his sides, the kisses attack, zerburts on his belly, etc. He also is facinated with his reflection in a mirror, sometimes to the point of laughing at himself (though he doesn´t realize quite yet that is is himself) or starting a conversation and smiling back.

His bowl movements have become much more regulated and less dramatic, up until also 3 mouths he would regularly explode in some of the most awkward situations. He is now pooping "yellow mango jelly" once a day, usually mid morning or right before bed. He still chose to have his last horrah a week and a half ago. We visited on our way home a good friend who looove to play with Joseph and hadn´t seen him for a few months. They were getting ready for a garage sale and I decided to meander through some items while they ooed and awed. He was placed in his stroller while I priced a few odds and ins and was on my way out to skype with Mom and Dad. In all the goodbyes, Rick Dickson picked him up to kiss him and vualá! Poop all through his britches, up the stroller and plaster on the outside of his diaper. How, I have no clue. The funny thing was I had ran out of fresh diapers and had one wipe left so Mom and Dad were lucky enough to witness a messy blob through the web cam of all the action as we raced inside.

We have finally hit the milestone of baby testing who has the authority, and yes, he is attempting to manipulate us with his screams to get our undivided attention at his beck and call. The good thing is we knew this was coming and we have been able to talk about how to approach this awkward situation together, despite our parenting differences of opinion. So there are times for Mommy and baby, Daddy and baby, and baby by himself, whether he chooses to whine through it or not. He has started conversing with himself and plays for a long time with his hands, these are positive distractions and a healthy reminder that he is maturing just fine. One day at the office, it was all I could do to not pick him up to make him stop, all the staff around us and him screaming because he wanted my attention, but at least we are working on the issue now rather than later.

Joseph tends to be all smiles, except for the camera. He isn´t quite sure what to make out of that strange black box with a little red light that flashes and hides Mommy and Daddy from him.

We have had a babysitter two night recently and it has been wonderful! Joseph has done beautifully and we really enjoyed the quality time together. Isn´t funny that we had the baby over to someone else to have a change in routine and focus on each other and all we seem to think and talk about is the baby?

Joseph hasn´t rolled over quite yet, but he has been having lots of tummy time to help him work on his muscles. He can now reach for a toy and draw it to his mouth, where everything ends up if it is up to him. At bath time, he loves to suck on a wash cloth and "drink" some water, bath time has become a second bath for mommy with all his acrobatic splashes. I am saving on having to wash the kitchen floor as often, Joseph ends up with half of his bath water on the floor.

Well, Joseph began sucking his two thumbs about two weeks ago, I fought it for a while and the more I did, the more he sucked so I have left him to stuffing the little thumbs in his cheeks at he leisure. The positive is he doesn´t seem to be so interested in sucking them for long periods, I really hope he naturally lets go of the discovery as he gets more and more involved in other activities. Holding a toy and even a teething ring has helped.

Though a learning process, Joseph is finally going to bed around 7 every night and falling asleep all on his own. Whew! Praise God we started this learning now rather than later. It is heart breaking to hear them cry themselves to sleep the first nights, but it is so much better for them and for us. And another huge milestone, he is generally sleeping at 7 and sleeps until 3 to 5 am to nurse again! This has given me my beauty sleep and revived me in so many ways, I am actually dreaming again! After he nurses, he goes right back to sleep until 7 or 8 am.

It is not a definate yet, but I am considering enrolling in a drawing class as a hobby to relax with everything going on. It is a toss up if I do it, I am praying about leaving Joseph with a babysitter and I would take a three hour class once a week for this year. i AM CONSIDERING IT TO BE A POSITIVE OUTLET FOR MY MENTAL SANITY, WE SHALL SEE.

Joseph loves to squeal and makes funny noises and gurgle. He enjoys playing with his hands and two adys ago discovered his feet and though it was the funniest thing. He is now eating every four hours approximately during the day. He is a healthy boy, loves to watch and observe others. He loves his Mommy and Daddy and he likes to bounce on mommy´s legs