Busy Parent Syndrome

Oh, Busy Parent Syndrome — you know what it is. It’s that ugly beast that rears its head when Mom and Dad are too occupied in adult affairs to spend quality time with their kids, so to ease their guilt they buy their children gifts.

wrapped package

I have fallen ill with this syndrome.

Our household these past few weeks has been tilted at an odd angle — Darwin and I have spent what seems like more than half the week on long day trips to the large nearby city of La Ceiba, on important errands, meeting with lawyers, organizing our board of directors — etc, etc, etc. Without going into details, we’ll say these past few weeks have been quite hectic and filled with heightened levels of general uncertainty and stress.

Family movie nights have thus morphed into kids-watch-a-movie-and-mom-and-dad-go-to-their-room-to-destress, and more than once in these last few weeks I’ve come home with purchased surprises for the kids when I knew I hadn’t come home early enough to spend the afternoon playing or reading with them.

Yesterday some of the symptoms of BPS (Busy Parent Syndrome) worsened as I brought home some cute clothes from a resale shop for our youngest two, knowing that I wasn’t able to offer myself to them during this busy season, but falling prey to the lie that at least I could offer something. Little nine-year-old Gleny was visibly excited to receive her secondhand polka-dot t-shirt I bought her, but after the fleeting thrill wore off she set it down and started chattering my ear off about something else, approaching me eagerly with one of her (rather painful) wrap-her-arms-around-your-neck-and-lift-her-legs-up-bear-hug, obviously more interested in having Mom than anything Mom could buy her. A blob of guilt rose up in my throat, knowing she would have taken an afternoon of juice-carton art projects or sit-in-my-lap time over me doing something or buying something for her.

z kids' clothes

Sound at all like how we treat our relationship with God sometimes? Go to church, attend small groups, serve in some capacity, are financially generous — do, do, do — but neglect the actual relationship, skirting around it with a lot of busyness without actually embracing His love and reciprocating it?

So last night as a family we took a stand against BPS. We organized a family movie night (and impromptu dance party and creativity competition in the living room), stuck to the plan even though Darwin and I were dog tired, cuddled with the kids on the couch, and enjoyed mugs of hot, sweet milk (a common treat in our home) that I had prepared in our kitchen. It was the most joyful evening we have spent as a family in some time, laughing together and genuinely enjoying one another’s company, setting the demands of the day aside, knowing that to some extent they will always be there.

Jesus’ words trickled through my mind all night and into the morning as I meditated on the sweetness of our evening with the children and how we have so carelessly allowed the demands of the day to interfere with the blessed communion our family enjoys with our Creator and one another: Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own…Be still and know that I am God.




The Long Road Home

Recently I sat alone under the night sky on an outdoor stairwell at our mentors’ home, my weary body resting upon the concrete steps as I looked up at the towering mountain before me. Thunder drummed above, and, at a loss for words, I prayed, “Lord, lead me safely home.”

Home, of course, does not mean my parents’ home in San Antonio, TX or my home with my husband and children here in rural Honduras.

Help me not to stray on the journey. Lead me safely home, Father. Lead me home. My heart cried desperately yet rejoiced unabashedly, reminded once again that I will never truly have ‘home’ in this world.

All at once I felt lost in the chaos of this world, the uncertainty, the grinding battles – utterly lost but also inexplicably found, at rest in the knowledge that my Lord has overcome this sin-stained world.

Living in a country such as Honduras has helped teach me that nothing is guaranteed, not even life itself. Our 14-year-old son witnessed the murder of one of his neighbors at a young age; thefts are committed in our neighborhood daily. Our dear friend lost her two preteen sons in a car accident; our children were rejected by their own parents. The government’s religion is corruption; ‘trust’ and ‘justice’ are foreign concepts in this land. The Lord has used these experiences to help me embrace a truth that many still refuse to accept: nothing other than God Himself can be legitimately counted upon. As much as I love my husband, he is not mine, and his life – or mine – can be taken at any moment. My children are not mine (this realization is perhaps made easier because they were not birthed from my womb) and therefore my security cannot be placed in my role as “mom.” Even my physical home is not guaranteed, nor my bank account – should I place my faith, my security and hope in anything other than the eternal, unchanging God, my life becomes a lie.

I recently stumbled upon this quote by A.W. Tozer that has since been tumbling around my mind:

“The man who has God for his treasure has all things in One. Many ordinary treasures may be denied him, or if he is allowed to have them, the enjoyment of them will be so tempered that they will never be necessary to his happiness. Or if he must see them go, one after one, he will scarcely feel a sense of loss, for having the Source of all things he has in One all satisfaction, all pleasure, all delight. Whatever he may lose he has actually lost nothing, for he now has it all in One, and he has it purely, legitimately and forever.”

Lord, lead us home. May You, and You only, be our eternal home.


Mowing the Yard Honduran-Style

Our eldest son, Brayan, 14, works alongside Darwin and Erick in agriculture two mornings per week at our home on the Living Waters Ranch. One of the more tedious jobs performed by many Honduran agriculturalists is “chopping” the yard, which consists of using a machete, rather than a lawnmower, to maintain the lawn trim. The following photos were taken on Angelica Gomez’s slow-motion camera in July 2014 of Brayan chopping our front yard.





A Morning of Silence

Several weeks ago when our family wasn’t going to be able to attend the Christian discipleship group that we normally attend every Sunday morning, Darwin and I responded to something different that God had placed on our heart: a morning of complete silence. We sat down with our four kids the night before, explaining how the next morning we would all be in total silence until noon, when lunch would be served and the silence would be broken. Each person could go wherever they wanted to within the limits of our property – in the hammock, under the shade of a tree, in their own bedroom, anywhere – in order to spend a personal time completely focused on God. Each person could spend time reading the Bible, praying, or meditating, and the only guidelines were that each person would maintain absolute silence and would focus the morning hours only on God. As Darwin and I explained this, the kids reactions were fused with intrigue. Our home is typically filled with little voices humming about, chattering non-stop about 108 different things, so Darwin and I naturally wondered if they would truly be able to maintain silence for such an extended period of time, but we trusted God’s voice within us and knew He would be faithful in what He led us to do.

The next morning we each got up when we were fully rested, and each person began what would be several hours of focused silence. As I left my room in the early morning to go to the kitchen, Jason greeted me, as he always does, and I responded with a smile and a “shh” gesture with my pointer finger over my mouth, reminding him that we were to be in total silence.

Darwin went on a solitude hike to spend time in contemplation, and I returned to our room to read Paul’s first and second letters to the early Corinthian church. After my encounter with Jason I neither saw nor heard a single other soul all morning. I thought the children must have left because no one knocked on our bedroom door or appeared suddenly in our windowsill for a friendly greeting!

We all came together at lunchtime as planned, and looking visibly refreshed and at peace, we each brought to the table our experiences with the Lord that morning. Gleny, our nine-year-old, explained in detail how she read Proverbs 31 about the exemplary woman (a bedtime favorite for the girls), and she realized for the first time that work is a blessing that the Lord gives us. Gleny noted this with a tinge of excitement, explaining how the woman in Proverbs 31 was a very hard-worker, and how through her dignified work she was able to provide for her family. Gleny then explained that she used to complain about having to work and do her chores (which is true), but that now that she understands that work is biblical and a blessing, she looks at it as a privilege instead of a burden. Darwin and I watched our little girl — this little girl who stains her clothes playing outside, just recently learned how to read and write, and loves Disney princess movies — with a sense of awe, thankful that we were obedient to God’s call to implement a morning of silence and amazed at what He did in her heart after just a couple hours completely absorbed in His presence.

Each person’s experiences during the morning of silence were unique, and that day we sat around our long wooden dining table discussing what we learned, read, and prayed that morning. It was as though the Lord was breathing new life into each one of us.

We have since had the morning of silence two more times, each time with unique and personal results. That time of set-aside silence unto the Lord is becoming a cornerstone for our family, and I challenge you to try the morning of silence with your own family, roommates, or friends and share your experiences via a comment on the blog post.

It Is Well With My Soul

July 27, 2014: Our family hosted its first music recital on our front porch in front of dozens of neighbors, close friends, and members of our Christian discipleship group. Jason (7), Gleny (9), and Brayan (14) debuted in their first public music performance after having practiced with their director (and dad) for roughly six months. For Diana (13) it was her second public recital, and she gracefully played recorder and three pieces on the piano. All nine of us who live and serve at the Living Waters Ranch participated in the finale — three songs sung by our choir (When There is Sorrow, It Is Well With My Soul, and Peace and Liberty). It was a joyous celebration of God´s graceful and mighty hand among us, and we sense that He is calling our family to host similar public recitals at local medical clinics in the months to come as we witness to  the redemption, unity, and hope that we have in Christ Jesus.

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