Little Miss Social Bug

Ana does a great job playing by herself. But she is a social bug. She doesn’t want to be left out of anything. Here are a couple of examples lately that I wanted to document.

Manuela is very close to our family, and Ana loves her so much. Manuela drinks hot chocolate every morning that she works here before starting the day. In the last month a new tradition has started. I am sad that Ana starts to school soon, because she won’t be able to carry it out. Ana requests to sit in her “brown chair” (her high chair) in the kitchen with Manuela to drink her hot chocolate as well. The two begin the morning socializing over their warm cups of drink. I think this is so cute.

Do you think she is a morning person by the look of that face? 🙂


I try to get together with my neighbor once a week to do something. Her younger sister came with her last night. This week, we made pizza together and just visited while preparing it and eating it. Who was all up in the middle of our conversation? You guessed it. Here is Ana with Stephanie and Kimberly.

AG the “Pepperoni Girl”


Little Miss Social Bug

I spoke too soon…

Well, Maggie was measured for her new brace. Greg went to pick it up yesterday. This evening we take her to the doctor for him to make sure it fits properly. I have a bunch of questions. This is what Greg brought home yesterday…


It basically looks like her other harness except without the leg braces. Oh, and one other major difference. That blue and white part is hard plastic. It looks like her legs will be in the splits for sure. I have tried to look up information on this thing, but I haven’t had a ton of luck. Have any of you had experience with this? I think it is called a Hewson brace. I have read that it is the step down from the other harness and that it is less restrictive, but I don’t see how that is possible. Apparently, Maggie is big enough to damage her shoulders from kicking the foot part on the other harness (since it is attached to a vest).

I am so thankful that the harness worked the past 2 months. I read of many cases where the harness didn’t do anything for the child and surgery had to be performed. Also, Greg commented to me this morning that he has loved holding her without the brace on the last couple of days. “Me too!” was my answer to that. She is the sweetest little thing. And though the time was short, we enjoyed putting her in her feeding seat. I am thinking that we can’t do that in her new brace. I am curious to ask the doctor if we can take it off more often than the other.

feeding seat

I spoke too soon…

Sweet Husband

Greg took Maggie into town to be fitted for her new brace this morning. He was so cute leaving the house with Maggie in the Ergo (my new carrier). I stayed home with Ana. I appreciate a husband that takes care of his girls. I really appreciate a husband that can take his infant daughter out on his own without the momma present. I really, really appreciate a husband that comes home, mission accomplished, holding these for his wife…


These are the best smelling flowers I have seen in Arequipa. The white flowers are called “Margaritas”–my name in Spanish. 🙂 On a side note, Greg asked me if I get a lot of comments in town when I carry Maggie in the Ergo. He said people were ooing and awing everywhere he went while Maggie slept on his back. I am just thinking they were impressed with a man that gives his wife a break. 😉

Sweet Husband

Big Fat Update

1. We had so much rain today! This was the most rain in one afternoon I have ever witnessed here in Arequipa. I spent a good bit of the rain storm sweeping water out of one side of our house (the water drains in to that side). Ana had a blast playing in the water that we rarely get. Here is our “wet hair” picture.


And I don’t know if this picture really captures what I want it to, but the buckets you see were catching water from the upstairs (where the Pintos live). We emptied those suckers 3 or 4 times. Crazy water! Oh, and the red part is where the water drained in to the other side.



Maggie is out of her harness!!! We had “drama at the doctor’s office: part 1000”–so maybe I am exaggerating a little bit, but we did wait 4 HOURS at the office. I got to say that I kind of forgot about that part when the doctor looked at her Xrays and said that she didn’t need the harness anymore. She had dysplasia on both sides. One side is totally healed and the other side is a few degrees off. We take her tomorrow to be fitted for the “double diaper” device. I am pretty sure she can move around in it. I am excited to see her when she figures out she doesn’t constantly have to work on the splits. I do want to say that in those 4 hours (3:30-7:30) neither of my girls had their afternoon naps and we didn’t experience a single cry session–thank you God for content children; you know exactly what I need. 🙂 Introducing Maggie “Chubby Legs” McKinzie. (I know. Her shirt looks gross. Can you tell where the harness was?)

Oh, and I should share that I dressed her in a long sleeved, long legged sleeper (she hasn’t worn pants in 2 months) tonight. I just loved on her and squeezed her. She is the cutest little chunk. I am a little biased.


Big Fat Update

John 14

Aside from pure busyness, I’ve been very hesitant to approach John 14 for a couple of reasons. It is one of the most personally moving pieces of Scripture for me, and I feel reticent about not doing it justice. I guess I should feel that way about the whole canon, but then I’d never post anything. Also, it is one of those Trinity passages, and I still just don’t know how to talk about that. I don’t feel bad on that count, since it took the church a few hundred years to get “settled” on the issue and even then couldn’t do much to explain it. Anyway, it’s a daunting subject. Nonetheless, in an important way it is that very point that makes these last words with the Apostles so special to me. Here’s a shout out to Bobby Garner, who apparently actually read what I’ve written on John and encouraged me to stay at it.

Recent experiences created fresh eyes for me as I reread ch. 14. I’ve been participating in a blog that I can’t link to, because it’s closed to the public in order to foster freedom from political repercussions and thus more openness among participants. There is quite a bit of skepticism and critical thinking going on there, and it’s healthy and challenging for me–the “conservative” voice. Dealing with difficult issues, though, requires a continual recourse to Jesus himself, to ask of him what to do and what to think. I don’t mind saying that there is a degree of worry and frustration that comes with thinking critically about reality. I believe Jesus experienced/experiences the same. John 14 has a beautiful bookend (14:1; 14:27): “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” That is the intended effect of these words. Do you find consolation here? Is there comfort for your troubled heart? There should be, I believe, if we truly hear Jesus in this chapter.

In order to get at the real essence of the chapter as I see it, I want to consider the skandalon of Christianity again. It is amazing to consider that the early church made such a relatively huge deal of a bunch of OT texts to do with the word “stone.” Paul interposes Isa 28 with Isa 8, and Peter also puts the two together, adding Ps 118. Cf. Luke 20:17-18 (and pars.) where Jesus puts Ps 118 together with a form of Isa 8.

Rom 9:32: Because they did not strive for it on the basis of faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33 as it is written, See, I am laying in Zion a stone that will make people stumble, a rock that will make them fall, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.

1 Pet. 2:6 For it stands in scripture: See, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame. 7 To you then who believe, he is precious; but for those who do not believe, The stone that the builders rejected has become the very head of the corner, 8 and A stone that makes them stumble, and a rock that makes them fall. They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.

Is. 28:16 therefore thus says the Lord GOD, See, I am laying in Zion a foundation stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation: One who trusts will not panic.

Psa. 118:22 The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.

Is. 8:14 He will become a sanctuary, a stone one strikes against; for both houses of Israel he will become a rock one stumbles over a trap and a snare for the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

This identification of Jesus as the stone of stumbling was apparently very early and very widely accepted as essential for explaining Jesus. For those who believe, he is the foundation and the capstone. For those who do not, he is a cause for stumbling into destruction. The fact that he was a giant, “scandalous” problem for so many who heard the story became part of the story. To Jews blasphemy; to Greeks absurdity.

Renowned theologian Lesslie Newbigin has made popular the phrase “the scandal of particularity” in discussions of modern and postmodern evangelism. His is a very enlightening contribution. I’ve come to think, though, that the real problem now, as always, is the scandal of exclusivity. “Exclusivism” has become a derisive word in postmodern discourse, on par with “pedophilia.” But the skandalon was never simply that God was to be found in this dead backwoods carpenter/upstart rabbi; it was always that God was to be found only in him. There are only two options: find God in this stone or be destroyed by it. There are certainly non-exclusivist interpretations of John 14:6, but I personally don’t think there is much disputing its original sense. “No one comes to the Father except through me.” The other way that this is stated in the chapter is that those who believe, love, and obey will receive the Spirit, “whom the world cannot receive.” Given the theology of the Spirit in the NT (not least the present chapter), not receiving it is extremely problematic for universalism.

Anyway, all that to say that I think that exclusivism is a natural implication of this text. The way we talk about this fact and the way we frame it theologically is of just as much importance as the point itself, however. Jesus is scandal enough. The statement from the 1989 ecumenical world mission conference sums up my view: “We cannot point to any other way of salvation than Jesus Christ; at the same time we cannot set limits on the saving power of God.” That said, I think focusing on the exclusivist implication of the chapter obscures the perspective from which we should hear Jesus’ words. These are words that bring comfort and peace. But we must place ourselves in the pathos of the twelve. Do not read blithely over their words. Hear their anguish, and you will see that Jesus is not chastising them, he is comforting them. Thomas cries in dismay: Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way? Philip pleads: Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied! Judas asks in disorientation: “Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus, we don’t understand what is going on here! It’s utterly confusing. Show us God, because for God’s sake we’re not finding him anywhere else!

As it has been for all of John, revelation is salvation. At issue here is not forgiveness of sin and escape from punishment, however badly we may need that. Rather, salvation here is at last to know God, to see God, to be with him, and to receive the peace that presence gives. And of course the implication is still that you can find God only in Jesus, but it is much more important to see that you can actually find God in Jesus. In this light, the argument over universalism is almost nonsensical, because the fact is that we don’t find him anywhere else. Nothing compares, however mystical and sublime. “If you know me, you will know my Father also, and from now on you do know him and have seen him.” And my heart cries out in such indescribable relief and worship. But that is not all. The Spirit is the continuation of revelation, the ongoing presence and intimate relationship: “we will come to them and make our home with them.” This is an experience, to be lived, without which there is no peace. This is salvation.

John 14

MK–7 months

Time is flying. Maggie Kate turned 7 months old yesterday. I cannot believe that she is more than halfway to being one! I decided that the 6 month mark is where it really gets fun. I enjoy the little baby stage, but I really enjoy when the baby can interact. Here are the 7 month markers I can think of…

1. Maggie LOVES to eat. So far, she has eaten sweet potato, white potato, zucchini, broccoli, carrot, spinach, green beans, mango, peach, banana, plum, and avocado. The only one she has not liked is avocado. She is also doing well on her sippy cup practice.

2. Maggie is a good napper. She takes three naps. Sort-of schedule: wakes up to eat at 5 am, back to sleep, wakes up to be with big sis and solids breakfast at 7 am, naps from 8-10:30, naps from 12:30-2:30, naps from 4-6:30. Goes to bed between 7-8:30. Since we started solids she sleeps through the night.

3. sounds: “D”, “M”, “B.” She doesn’t know what she is saying, but she says “Mama” a lot. I pretend she knows what that word means, though. 🙂

4. We are practicing the food sign language. She thinks we are so funny when we sign “all done.”

5. We go for her first check-up this coming week. She has worn the harness for 2 months. It STINKS so bad! I am not allowed to wash it (she can’t have it off that long). I have tried putting hand sanitizer on the stinky areas, but we are definitely going to buy another one if she has to continue to wear it.

6. Maggie does well sitting up, but because of her brace she can’t really get up if she falls back. She is still a pro-reacher. And a pro-stretcher (she does a mean splits).

7. She LOVES Ana. I am loving this age because she interacts so much with Ana. They laugh at each other, and both of them irritate each other already. I think Maggie is picking up on how to agitate her sister (tugging on hair, tickling).

8. We are 2 for 2 on VERY ticklish daughters.

9. Ana’s eyes squint up like mine, but when I look into her eyes I see McKinzie. When I look into Maggie’s eyes, she reminds me of my side, the Bills. I saw a photo of Ana when she was this age the other day. Maggie still reminds me a lot of Ana as a babe.

10. Maggie has just started fussing when certain people pick her up (like attachment anxiety). She is definitely a momma’s girl, but she interacts more with Greg than I remember Ana doing.

11. She is discovering her higher vocals. She also does this thing where she shakes her voice (sounds like a billy goat). She is very “verbal” right now. She likes for people to know she is around.

12. One of my new favorite things is bathtime. We don’t have a bathtub in our home so we use a store bought tub. I fit both girls in it this past week. I bathe Maggie, place her in her bed to play, and bathe Ana. Greg has several nights that he is gone for Bible studies so I have to bathe the two of them without help. I now have a system.

the bathtime headshots


see how tiny that tub is? (I know, they will kill me later for posting this)


7 months of sweetness


MK–7 months


Sorry for the catchy title. To keep you informed…

1. Rachel is here! Rachel moved here and will be an apprentice for 2 years. We are so thankful and excited that she is finally here, and we look forward to getting to know her better and seeing how God uses her for his work here. She has already found her apartment (unfurnished), but she has chosen to live with both of the families for a little while to get to know us better. Currently, she resides with us.

2. We are working on a back-to-school bash for the library kids and families. I am excited to see how it all turns out, but I have been placed in charge of the delegating and am enjoying it so far. It will occur sometime the beginning of March (don’t forget that our summer break is coming to an end).

3. We had an enjoyable Valentine’s Day. They celebrate the day of love here in Peru. I was surprised with a beautiful bouquet of flowers and a long love letter (thank you sweet husband), and we ate our favorite sandwhich in the city (called the Saltimboca). Ana, Rachel, and I made heart-shaped and flower-shaped cookies (using the red sprinkles left from our Christmas decorating). It was an enjoyable day.

4. Valentine’s Day fell on Carnaval this year. Carnaval is a celebration held before Easter (basically of everything the flesh enjoys). However, the traditions vary country to country. I am not sure what all Carnaval entails here, but there is a major tradition dealing with water. Lots of groups of young people walk around the city (many with faces painted black) and slug any other pedestrian with water balloons, water buckets, flour, silly string, etc. This is our first Carnaval in our neighborhood. We were in the thick of it this year! But the kids were having so much fun. We rode in a taxi to the sandwich place and watched the car in front of us squirt silly string at every poor, defenseless person on the sidewalk. But it was hilarious!

In the afternoon, the Pintos were having a blast up above us. One of the older sons (who is older than me) was sneaking up on the women and throwing water on them. I could not resist. We are on the bottom floor and can look up to their second floor and talk (like an outer hallway). I got my bucket ready, waited for Antonio to sneak around to get the women in the room and flung my bucket up at him. I scored!… but immediately I got the water thrown down on me (more than one bucket). So, I got a little taste of the tradition of throwing water.

OK, that sums it up for now. Happy Belated Valentines Day everyone!


Adventures in Baby Food

I have said and will say again that I LOVE the fresh produce we get year-round and the PRICES. There are a few stores here that sell baby food jars, but it is usually the basic fruits and it is a little pricey. So I have entered in to the adventure of making home-made baby food, and it is wonderful. (1) It really isn’t that hard. (2) For where I live, it is ridiculously cheap.

Many of my friends that check this site have little ones–you should try this! It isn’t economical for everything in the states (for example: non-seasonal fruit), but if you can take an hour one afternoon to peel fruit and cook some veggies, that is all the time you need to prepare homemade babyfood. I have used several different websites for tips and ideas. I freeze mine in ice trays and then remove and place in a zip lock bag. After 30 seconds in the microwave, I mix the partially melted ice cube with rice cereal or oatmeal and it is a go!

Many of you have tried this or are already doing it. I guess I never realized how EASY it really is. My mom is going to send me a hand mill which is supposed to be awesome when Maggie can eat just about anything. I look forward to that.

So far, Mags really likes mango (my favorite baby food so far–it is so creamy), plums, banana (why does anyone buy jarred banana? All you need is a fork to mash it.), peach, avocado, green beans, spinach, and sweet potato. I started with fruit (because it was so easy to prepare) and was nervous that Maggie wouldn’t go for the greens. Manuela told me to cook the green beans and spinach together with a bouillon cube–she LOVED it. I was also taught that the greener the better. Do you notice how green the cubes turned out?

Does anybody out there have some other tips they can pass on to this girl getting into the adventure?

plum and mango cubes (to the left)/ green beans and organic spinach (to the right)–it looks gross I know


Adventures in Baby Food

Ana’s “kids”

This reminds me of my oldest nephew, Joshua, referring to my brother’s youthgroup as “the kids.” I work with “the kids” at the library events we host here, and Ana asks me if I am going to see “the kids.” Well, in her make-believe world she has “kids.” For the last 3 weeks she has gone from being the “momma” to her baby dolls to “teaching her kids at the library.” The other day I took the opportunity to take a picture and tell me the name of her kids. From right to left there is Ana, Shaye Rebecca Smith (she said our teammates’ daughter’s complete name), Stephanie (one of my friends here in the neighborhood) and Baby Cora (our newest team member). She talks to the kids and sings and teaches them things. I love this stage of pretending. Also, Ana has just lately been talking to an imaginary friend, Allie. I don’t know how long this will go on, or if Allie will stick around, but she has full-blown conversations with the girl. Allie is always waiting outside on the patio for her. I guess it is a good thing to have such an imagination when momma is tending to the little sister or doing house chores.


Ana’s “kids”

Pop and Gram 2010

What a wonderful 2 weeks. We had such a good time with Pop and Gram here, and I am so pleased with all that they got to do and see. More than anything, they spent two weeks of quality time with our girls. That makes me so happy. Also, I absolutely LOVED having free baby-sitting. Greg and I were able to do Bible studies and kids’ events together because Mom and Dad watched the girls. That was so nice. I am really happy that they got to witness our fourth library inauguration. We visited with “President” Abraham the night before, and Abraham asked Dad to say a few words for the event. I thought that was neat.

This slideshow is LONG, but it doesn’t even compare to the memories we now have. We love you Mom and Dad! We can’t wait to see you again, whenever that will be.


Pop and Gram 2010