A Peruvian Sunday afternoon

danafria

 

Ana needed a school notebook this afternoon so we decided to take an outing (the three kids and me) up to the bodega one block from our home.  Our one block walk turned into a D’ANAFRIA ice cream treat, a walk down to the “llama park,” and a visit to the “playground park” (that just recently reopened).  We headed home when the sun started to set and the cool Arequipa night air crept in.  It is an afternoon outing like this that will cause me to look back on our time in Peru with such fondness.  I just love it.  Sweet memories of our three precious kiddos walking hand-in-hand with ice cream stains and smiles on their faces.

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A Peruvian Sunday afternoon

Back-to-School 2014

It is a new season of life! All three of the McKinzie children are in school. WooHoo! Cohen turns 3 in April, but the kids here start at age 3 in what they call “jardin,” and for us, it is important to have them fully-immersed in Spanish. So… off he went. He was certainly hesitant to be left, but I waited for him to be distracted and took off running. Ana informed me that they have the English teacher positioned in his classroom to help with his full-immersion.

We have had a successful first week. Their schedule isn’t yet normal (shorter days this week), and uniforms aren’t ready, but this is how we roll for first week back. 🙂

my $4 a piece Target finds from last September.  They are the only kids with these lunch boxes.  :-)
my $4 a piece Target finds from last September. They are the only kids with these lunch boxes. 🙂
Cohen's "cubby"  All three had one of these.  I got some great exercise the first day carrying all of their things to school.
Cohen’s “cubby” All three had one of these. I got some great exercise the first day carrying all of their things to school.
first day outfits (Maggie did wear shoes, I promise.)
first day outfits (Maggie did wear shoes, I promise.)
he is just so big now
he is just so big now
I can't even...
I can’t even…
their “bienvenidos fiesta” loot from this Friday. Peru philosophy is that the children can never have enough candy.
Back-to-School 2014

How is your spiritual life?

I am in a weekly study with English-speaking women studying The Life You’ve Always Wanted and a weekly study of it in Spanish with one of my dear Peruvian sisters. This book, by John Ortberg, was one of those reads that I can pinpoint in my spiritual journey. I read it my sophomore year of college, and it came as a really good book at a really good time. It is a study of the spiritual disciplines.

Something that I want to remember here, and something that I want to disciple other Christians in as I study God’s will for our lives is how I answer, “Megan, how is your spiritual life?”

Disciplines are good: prayer, service, celebration, study, etc. But I have a terrible tendency to place a check box beside them and base my answer to the question above with a positive (because I have a lot of checked boxes) or a negative (because I didn’t check many boxes). When I don’t have those checked boxes, I am burdened with guilt. So the obvious answer to the question when viewed in this way is, “Well, not so good.” Because in reality, the majority of the time I have a lot of unchecked boxes.

What sets a Christian apart is the mark of the Holy Spirit. And we read in the NT that the HS produces fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control. These are the things that should naturally flow out of a Christ-follower. For a Christian, “spiritual life” is not one aspect of life. It is life. Our walk, our journey, our friendships, our enemies, our work, our pleasure, etc. Because the Spirit is in all things. We live and walk by the Spirit as Christians.

I don’t know why, but this question has hit me so differently in this past year. The spiritual disciplines are good, but my life should not be defined by them. And maybe it is because I am in relationships with Peruvians here that have no baggage of a church culture that teaches them to feel guilty for not checking the right boxes. I have an opportunity to teach a new Christian to see Christ and his example to us as all they need. Can it really be as simple as remembering the word “fruit?”

So when someone asks me, “Megan, how is your spiritual life?” I want to think about this…

Is the Spirit flowing freely, or am I quenching the Spirit? Am I producing the fruit of the Spirit in my life? When people interact with me in work, conversations, observing my attitude, fun events, celebrations, disappointments, family time, etc., am I displaying love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control? If those things do not flow freely from within me, then no, my spiritual life is not good.

I go through seasons where I write in my prayer journal every evening, when I spend quiet time with God, when I have a lot of time to put into studying the word of God. But as a momma of three that works a part-time job in a culture that just sometimes wears me out… I have seasons where sleep is my most important spiritual discipline. Because without it, I will not allow the fruit of the Spirit to flow freely out of me. I work with young Christians in the church here that work from sunrise to sundown. When they get home, they expend the rest of their energy on providing food for their families and making sure their children are ready for another school day. What do I teach them about using a barometer for their spiritual lives?

Should they be burdened when they haven’t had the time or chance to practice the disciplines? In a sense, I think we should feel burdened to practice discipline. It is the only way to train for a race. And life is certainly a race (1 Timothy 6:12). But what do I want them to think when I ask them how they are doing spiritually?

Are they treating their coworkers with kindness? Do their neighbors see them as peacemakers? Are they able to give thanks in all circumstances, and live with a joy that can only be explained through Christ in moments of hardship and disappointment because of the hope they have? Are they patient and gentle with their children? Are they faithful to their spouse and loved ones? Do they maintain an awareness of self-control in arguments or situations that are unjust? Are they displaying the fruit of the Spirit? Because this is how we know we are showing and being the love of Christ to those around us. This is how we are light in a dark world.

Life by the Spirit (Galatians 5:13-26)

13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh[a]; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[c] you want.18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

So… maybe the question is better framed for me as, “Megan, are you keeping in step with the Spirit?” It is late. I think I will get some sleep now.

 

How is your spiritual life?

The GRE, Vinifan, a clausura, and Family Day

The GRE

Greg took off this past Thursday evening and headed for Lima.  He went to take the GRE today.  He needs this score for his applications into doctoral programs.  I couldn’t be any prouder of my husband in pursuing this dream.  It is something we have talked about since before we married, and it is a blessing to be married for almost 10 years and still be on the same page as far as life goals go.  He put a lot of late night study hours into preparing for this test.  We both got a kick out of his math practice problems.  Good thing he married a middle level math major.  I will say, though, that the problems he was having to solve were from an Algebra 2 level.  (He called me into the room multiple times to ask, “Meg, explain this to me…”)  Why does a theology doctor need to remember the quadratic formula???  Anyhoo, this wife is proud of her husband.  I am confident that he did the best he could do.

Vinifan

Our kids start school after summer break this coming Monday.  We are thrilled that ALL THREE will be going to school this year.  While I am super excited about this aspect of freedom in our lives, the bank account has certainly taken a harder hit with all the back-to-school items to purchase, and this momma is wiped out from all the running around we have to do to find everything.  Here is the back-to-school prep in a nutshell:

  1. sign-up your kids at the school office.  Get all lists for each grade level.
  2. take your kids to get passport type photos made (the school uses them on various forms)
  3. figure out what vaccinations your child is missing (my bad).  I will be taking both Maggie and Cohen tomorrow morning to get up-to-date on their vacunas.
  4. Take child that hasn’t worn a uniform before to store or seamstress that is making uniforms for this new year, order correct size, pay down payment
  5. Go to a book store, drop off your list for school items, come back ONE HOUR later to find that they are still completing the items on the lists.  Pay an arm and a leg for the school supplies for the entire year (and this doesn’t include text books or all the personal hygiene items!)
  6. Go to bodega to buy boxes and wrapping paper, tape, VINIFAN (yes, the title of this section)
  7. Write each child’s name about a million times on tiny pieces of masking tape to place on every.single.thing that you bought on their list (I am talking every marker, colored pencil, paint container, etc)
  8. Take a day to go into the city with your “text book list” and buy all the various text books at all the various locations.  So fun.
  9. Prepare box with wrapping paper to resemble a “cubby” for your child’s items
  10. Begin Vinifan process.  Something I despise!  Vinifan is a brandname for a plastic that serves as a clear book cover.  They want everything covered.  Every text book, every notebook (that you buy 2 of for every subject), every 3-ring binder.
  11. Add all other items from list like toilet paper, hand soap, etc (the school does not provide ANY of this)
  12. Take kids the first day of school, sit with the teacher as she checks off the list to see that you bought everything.
just part of Cohen's list
just part of Cohen’s list
every single item
every single item

Multiply this by 3 and OH MY WORD!  This is our last back-to-school year here in Peru, and I cannot say that I will miss this part of the process.  While Greg has been gone, I have been Vinifanning like crazy (and yes, I just turned that word into a verb).  I have Cohen and Maggie’s “cubbies” completed.  Can I get a Halleluyer?!

Clausura

I blogged about Ana’s art class last month.  This month, Ana wanted to repeat another art class, and Mags took a Modern Dance class.  Ana loved her art once again.  This month was with a different set of teachers.  She worked a lot on painting or replicating other people’s drawings or paintings.  Here is some of her work that was featured at the exhibit today…

her love for Angry Birds showed
her love for Angry Birds showed

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Maggie enjoyed her dance class.  I was a little shocked at the dance moves and choice of music when she started (then I remembered where we lived), but she didn’t ever seem to get the belly roll down (ha!) and it was great to get her out of the house to do something fun and different.  I videoed her final dance.  I will have to get Greg to help me to post the video.  She did a great job.

showing some sister love before Mag's performance
showing some sister love before Mag’s performance

Our Day Off

Greg was in Lima, but Friday is still our family day.  I took all three kids to the girls’ clausura, and then we headed to the mall.  We ate at Burger King (or “Hamburger King” if you are Cohen), got a special treat of ice cream, and I watched them play on the “token” rides as I like to call them (except I paid nothing).  🙂  We were out about 5 hours as a family.  We sure missed Greg, but I was happy to do something with the kids and not be cooped up in the house this last Friday of their summer vacation.

ice cream treat
ice cream treat

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this word is perfect for how I feel about these three
this word is perfect for how I feel about these three

I am more than ready to see my GREg when he gets home (see what I did there?!).  And I think we are ready to kick off this new school year… if I can get my Vinifan all in gear.  🙂

 

The GRE, Vinifan, a clausura, and Family Day