Thursday, September 09, 2010

Naomi is not in Spain anymore

life goes on for us.
in a different place
and in different ways.
but all five of us are here,
and God keeps being faithful.
keep following along with us here . . . if you want!


Wednesday, August 18, 2010


oh dear! it's been so long since I've written . . . does anybody still check?

I am getting the itch to blog again, though. it won't be long now . . . .

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

almost done

We leave Pamplona on Thursday.
Our stuff is packed away into 11 suitcases;
what hasn't been packed has been spread throughout our friends' and neighbors' homes
or set by the trash bin for an unknown neighbor to pick up (when no one is looking)

we're feeling tired
and pretty good.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

we told the kids we'd only stay five minutes . . .

we went to the park yesterday afternoon;
we almost didn't go.

we ran into so many people
and had so many conversations

I can't believe we almost didn't go

that's what I say every time

Selma snagged Carlos' moto and went for a spin. That's why all the 2-year-olds go to the park - - to check out each other's rides.

if you want to find out more about the toddler moto culture in Spain, read this

Sunday, April 18, 2010

flowers for my friend

My friend Gabriela is in the hospital this week;
I went by to visit her yesterday; I scrounged in Rachel's give-away pile right before I left home and found a cute little yellow pitcher and a shiny pink ribbon; and then ran by the shop to pick up some flowers
to stick in the yellow pitcher
to wrap up with a pink ribbon
(flower arranging is cheap and easy when other people give away pretty things!)

We had a fun visit.
I like Gabriela - - a lot.
I like that I can give her my old Martha Stewart baby magazines and she gasps and holds them to her chest and starts flipping through them right away.
I like that she loves her baby boy so much and that she speaks kindly about her husband.
I like that yesterday, when I sheepishly gave her my half used Burt's bees creams in her hospital care package, she didn't even bat an eye; she only gushed thanks - - acting as if I was doing her a huge favor by leaving them with her.
and I like that she told me that the flowers I brought her made her think of something her grandmother would have given her; isn't that a sweet, thoughtful compliment?


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

pack everything away . . . but not the coffee pot

today I washed my coffee pot. As I scrubbed, I thought that maybe I should pack it away today;
I really need to be putting the final suitcases together.

I remembered, though, that we still have some chocolate cake in the fridge;
and when Trini brings her sister over to pick up the bookshelves today, I really want to invite them for some cake.
and coffee.

and we wanted to invite Mikel over while his wife is in the Hospital this week;
I was going to feed him some cake
(he's a professional baker, with a dream to open up his own shop in Chile)
and make him give me tips on how to make it better.
He'll need coffee with that cake to give a fair evaluation.

and, when we said goodbye to Txutxin and Marian on Sunday, Marian gave us all hugs but told us they weren't her last hugs - - and that she was going to find a way to hug us again before we left.
She says that my coffee pot makes really good coffee, so I might need to make coffee for them sometime before I leave.

right.
I can't possibly pack my coffee pot yet.
what was I thinking?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

the lamb was amazing . . .

Pablo's mom has been trying for months now to get us out to their pueblo (it's where their family retreats to on the weekends). We finally made plans to visit last week.
"it will be a special Easter get-together" she told me
"we'll roast a lamb in Vicente's brick oven!"
it was beautiful.
God gave us a gorgeous day;
Pablo, Malachai, Josu and Selma spent hours in the warm sun - - with futbols and wooden swords and Pablo's fake bull head mounted on a bicycle wheel that can be pushed around to simulate a bull run or a bull fight (they start'em young, I tell you!)

Trini and I spent the morning making cinnamon rolls in the kitchen (I promised her three months ago that I would) and putting the finishing touches on the dress I'm making for Selma (Trini used to own a little sewing shop)

Joshua and Vicente spent the day roaming around Vicente's little country acre - - looking at Vicente's garden, checking the suckling lamb in the brick oven, sitting at the porch table - - all the while talking about things like:
Vicente's role in heading up that Catholic charity ministry in Pamplona
and his methods for making home made wine,
but mostly they talked about the resurrection of Jesus.
Vicente insisted that Christ's resurrection was not a physical resurrection
Joshua insisted that it had to be physical
back and forth they argued - - with Trini in the background calling over her shoulder every now and then - - reminding Vicente to lower his voice and to stop swearing so much.

we had said we would leave by 7 pm - - at the latest.
at 8:30 we started packing up into to car, saying our final goodbye's

The following day Trini called us from the pueblo. she wanted to say sorry to Joshua for the way that Vicente kept trying to provoke him
("oh no" Joshua told her "don't worry about it; plus, I can push pretty hard myself!")

and she said that Vicente had one of the best days he's had in a really long time
("us too" he told her "us too")

Friday, April 09, 2010

raising children with good grooming habits


We caught Josu cleaning out the dirt from underneath his nails with his dinner fork yesterday.
I'm super proud of him;
clean - - and resourceful too.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

made for each other . . .

In his sovereignty, God knew that mankind would one day grind up chickpeas to make hummus. In his kindness, he created arugula for us to eat with that hummus.

p.s. don't think too hard about the theological accuracy of this statement. Instead, try hummus and arugula yourself and thank God for it!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Josu wears short shorts

There is little in Josu's four year old life that makes him so happy as wearing his (size 2) football set.

There is little in his life that makes him so sad as having to take it off

p.s. thank you, Nathaniel Jackson, husband of my sister, for gifting this set to Josu, and for the way it is helping him to read - - we caught him outside of a bar, spelling out the word "football" all by himself! - - C-A-R-L-S-B-E-R-G

Thursday, March 25, 2010

puzzles and other happy things

my heart is happy today:
my little girl is doing puzzles,
and I'm doing laundry; it's windy and sunny - - just the right sort of day to hang laundry;
and laundry time is good because it facilitates thinking time, and I can't stop thinking about the wonderful conversation I had with my sweet friend last night . . . she called me late at night and I took a cab over to her place (taking the bus would have been all wrong last night; we had important things to talk about!); she made me the world's hottest cup of mint tea (it was perfect!) and I gave her my bible. giving away your bible to someone who wants it is one of the nicest feelings ever, I think.

and I'm happy because I have a call date with another friend, Carol, this afternoon. we are going to talk about things like:
is it right for a mature, spiritual person to enjoy beautiful things?
and
what exactly is the gospel? what does it mean to share it?
I can't wait to hear what Carol has to say about these things, and I can't wait to hear her interact with my thoughts.

and I'm happy because Joshua comes home from England today,
and it's his birthday,
and I'm going to make him chicken coconut red curry soup, except I can't find red curry paste here in Pamplona, so it will have to make it with green curry paste, I guess.
(hey look! no chairs!)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

downtown and back again

dear Joshua,

I took the kids downtown to buy you a birthday gift this afternoon. I know you said no birthday gifts this year . . .but I think you're really going to like it! please don't check the credit card statement within the next 24 hours, ok? you like surprises, I like you to be surprised. . . so don't look!

also, a nice thing happened as it began to rain and we ran to catch the bus back home - - we bumped into our downstairs neighbor! She asked us to wait just ten minutes for her as she did one last errand, so that we could ride back together . . . and we had the nicest bus ride home with her; we talked a bit about last summer when our church tried to find ways to love the city of Pamplona during the festivals (you remember, of course, that she was the one who actually offered some really good suggestions when we did that, right?)
let's invite her for a coffee some time this month; I think I would really enjoy that!

how has England treated you this week? not to much rain, I hope! and not too many stuffy, hot tubes - - because I am remembering that I sent you off with only two dress shirts and a couple of t-shirts (you are a good traveler, my love)

good night!
Naomi

stickers on my window, and goodness! my house is a mess!

We had a rich few days together as a church this past weekend. We spend some concentrated time reflecting on some of our strengths and weaknesses as individuals and as a church community. on Friday night, after a rousing game of neon bowling, we came back home and spent half of an hour writing out important events in the little history of our church on post-it notes. we then arranged them as a time line on our window wall - - putting the highlights up high, and the struggles down low (perhaps you have done this before? it was very fun and enlightening!)
Joshua had to leave for a trip to London before he was able to record this fantastic documentation, so we left up the 107 little yellow squares for him to record it all when he returns later on this week.
While Joshua is away, I am trying my best to prepare for our move.
My friend Trini (remember Pablo? we love Pablo. Trini is Pablo's mom) came by yesterday to pick up some stuff I had set aside for her.

Trini's husband heads up Pamplona's catholic charity group, which means her house is furnished with bits and pieces of furniture that her good husband has brought home from the donation shop over the course of their marriage.

So when Trini came by yesterday, she took away my tables and chairs (and benches and fans and my lavender plant and my extremely hearty mystery plant). I warned her that my table has wine glass rings and globs of glitter glue in random places, but she insisted a hundred times that she wanted it anyways and that she would actually pay me for it. (yeah! into the camera fund that goes!)

while Trini was here, she asked my stickered window; she said that she had looked up at my apartment from the street level, and could see lots of little black dots and wondered what I had done to my windows.
I explained it to her, and she laughed at us . . . .
but I think she liked it . . . .

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Rachel: being intentional, and looking all cute while she's at it

This is Rachel at her post graduation mingle time, texting her friends about where they are going to meet for pinchos . they will stay out late, roaming the streets of Pamplona, eating teeny tiny tasty foods (that's what pinchos are) and hanging out:
Rachel has lots to do this week.
she has a project to turn in,
and lesson plans to write.
She doesn't really enjoy staying up late
and her shoes are uncomfortable.
I suspect that she doesn't want to go out tonight,
but she will
because she loves people,
and she's shaping her life patterns in light of of that.
I think she's awesome.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

babies kissing mirrors

babies everywhere, I think, kiss themselves in mirrors.
when Selma kisses herself in the mirror, she kisses herself two times - - one kiss for each cheek. I wonder if this phenomena is common among all Spanish babies? I think I'm going to have to ask around.
(are you a Spanish mom? does your baby do this?)

Monday, March 08, 2010

a gentle nudge

there's nothing quite like hearing your baby girl call out
"go-way mama! go-way!"
in her sleep at night,
to encourage extra snuggling with your baby girl
throughout all your waking hours the next day
(Selma and Malachai - - doing bull horns)

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

preparing for departure

We had a beautiful, sunny, sunny day today. I abandoned all household chores and headed out to the porch with Selma to sort through my pots and plants;
Selma spooned dirt from one pot to another;
I swept up the dirt that Selma kept spilling;
it kept the nuns across the street amused for a while.
I did eventually clean out most of my pots; I left the plants that looked the best - - a couple of geraniums, the lavender, and the olive tree; I'm hoping that I can find a friend or neighbor to take these when we move.

I was cleaning out the planter that was home to the strawberry plants last summer and found this sweet mysterious little plant: it's probably a weed, but I couldn't resist the spring-time urge to plant something so I snagged the spoon from Selma and transferred it to to an old yogurt jar.
maybe it will live for a bit.
(maybe?)
just until mom comes and goes (please!)

Friday, February 19, 2010

conversation stopper

We got back from London on a Wednesday.
Thursday morning I dropped Malachai and Josu off at school, and raced to the pasteleria. I wanted to make sure to catch Sonia and Ana for a coffee

I wanted to see them because I knew they would ask me about our trip to London, and I was excited to tell them about our traveling adventures, and about my little sister Abi's sweet, cozy hospitality in her teeny-tiny home (see Selma licking up uncle Nathaniel's world famous hot coco from the hallway floor - - below).

I was excited (and a little bit nervous, but mostly just excited) to tell them about the four hour meeting that Joshua and I had had with Mike and Richard - - good men who are serving and leading the church in England, and who are looking for help to do this.
I was excited to tell Ana and Sonia about the church that these guys had described for us - - an established, commuter church on the edge of an estate (that's fancy, British talk for a housing project) that has slowly, over the years begun to see the neighborhood change - - fill with immigrants from Asia, India and Pakistan. The church is interested in reaching out to and loving their neighborhood;
but they don't really know how,
and they are kind of afraid,
and they need someone to equip them for ministry, and to give them a vision for action.

And I wanted to tell Ana and Sonia how very much this excites me and Joshua - - we love the church! We believe that the great purpose of the church in this world is to love the world around it; we love joining with the church to do this!
but.
That conversation hardly happened; my sweet friends seemed barely interested, and the topic of conversation was quickly changed.

This didn't necessarily surprise me, I guess, but I've been thinking a lot about it, and there are two things that I keep going back to:

1. My greatest passions are not their greatest passions. I talk about these things because God has changed my heart; it's as simple as that.

2. While my Spanish friends have years of experience conversing about where to find the best butcher in town (and countless other helpful, interesting topics),
they
don't
EVER
talk about God, or the church, or anyone's passion for the church loving the world. And I think that partly, they have a hard time talking about these things with me because they're just not used to it.
they don't know what to say,
they don't know what to ask,
so they don't.

I've come to realize that
I need to get used to talking true to my identity with my friends
and they need to get used to hearing about my true identity

how about you?

Monday, February 15, 2010

culture 101


when Jeremiah and Mercy visited this Christmas, we taught them how to sound cultured.
"when you get back to the States" we told them, "don't say 'when we were in Europe' . . . say 'last time we were in Europe . . .'
"and try to fit it into as many conversations as you can" we coached them.

like this:
last time we were in London, Joshua took me to see Wicked at the Apollo theater.

see?
cultured.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

when we were in London:

Once, not too long ago (last week in fact)
Joshua took me to the British Royal Academy of Music (well, it was Abi and Nathaniel, really, that took the whole family; but Joshua was there)
where we sat on a bench and ate Nigerian goat stew and Brazilian beef sandwiches;
and kissed while an opera singer practiced her scales in the background.
It was spectacular.
Even if your setup can't quite match up (I know, Nigerian goat stew is hard to beat), I highly recommend that you kiss the one you love; every day; several times a day

(and teach your children to cheer for you every time you do)

Friday, February 05, 2010

to London, to London!

I was praying with Malachai in bed last night. Malachai's prayer went on a bit longer than normal;

because he loves talking to God? very possibly.

because he loves talking to God and I was scratching his back at the same time? even more possible.

"please, God" he begged "help tonight be long enough for us to rest really well, but short enough for tomorrow to come really fast"

this morning we're off to London to do some business and (most importantly) to visit Abi and Nathaniel.

(and we're all very excited!)

Monday, February 01, 2010

weekend in review: part three

Sunday night:
The church had come and gone. there were carrot cake crumbs from the Lord's table still on the floor; Brett had stayed for dinner and the dishes were still in the sink, the floor a sticky mess.
It was late, and I was tired.
but I didn't go to bed. Instead, I stayed up a little bit later
and just cleaned.

weekend in review: part two

Saturday morning:
our doorbell rang.
it was our mailman.
the one who we say hi to every day;
the one who pokes his head into the coffee shop to tell us we have (x number of) letters waiting for us in our mail box;
the one we gave Christmas cookies to - - and a beenie on that day when it was snowing and he had no hat.

well, he doesn't normally come up; he usually stays downstairs where the mailboxes are, but on this particular Saturday morning he did - - he came up to tell us that his rout was changing, and that he wanted to say goodbye,
and to assure us that he had briefed the new mailman about how we are an American family that gets all sorts of mail and packages from across the sea, and how we need special looking out for.
I invited him in; of course I invited him in! (and I tried to position him so that he was looking toward the cleanest corner of the kitchen - - kind of like I do with my camera, you know?)
"You are leaving?" we asked him
"We are leaving!" we announced
and then there was a flurry to find paper to exchange addresses and then wishing each other the best, and off he went.
he left and I wrinkled my nose and clenched my fists (it's what I do when I think of something I'm embarrassed about)
and reminded myself of my resolve to keep inviting people in.
every time.
even when it's messy.
every time.

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