A Full-time Working Momma

Greg will be a full-time doctoral student starting this fall. We decided that to help make this happen, I need to work full-time. It is an absolute blessing that I found a job here without my CA teaching credentials (still in the works), but it worked out. Yesterday, I received a message with my new work email address. The first part of my email is “msmckinzie.” Sounds teacher-official, doesn’t it? I begin my new job as a 6th grade math/science teacher this coming Monday… lots of staff development. Students don’t come until later in August. My school is projects-based learning with a lot of technology integration so the newbies report early to kick it into gear. There is a part of me that is absolutely giddy with excitement. I think that you know you are in the right profession when you can get so excited about working.

Notice I said “a part of me” is giddy. One of my struggles in my reverse culture shock and going through major life transitions is this job.

You see, I love using my gifts as a teacher. It is the profession I chose back in the college days. It’s the job that brought home the bacon during our Memphis chapter. BUT, I have never worked full-time while also being a full-time momma. I went to Peru, our 17-month-old Ana in tow, and I knew my main mission was to be a momma. My heart has been grieving this life of a stay-at-home-mom for months now. And it isn’t just Ana anymore. I love our three littles like crazy, and I am going to miss waking up with them, taking them to school, attending school events, and the list goes on. (as a side note, I am so incredibly thankful for a supportive husband that loves those three littles like crazy too)

Greg sees all of my tears. He knows I am a basket case in emotional times. God bless him. I was having one of those “ugly cries” one evening, and we sat down to talk about it. I explained to him that I could not put my finger on all that was going on in my head. He let me extrovert, and he heard my words and my grief regarding this situation with my job and the kids.

He said, “Megan, it’s like you’ve forgotten all that we saw in Peru.”

Well, that made me a little bit mad. I have not forgotten Peru, and I will testify at a podium in front of thousands to share what I witnessed God doing during our time in Peru. But the more I thought about his words, the more I realized he was right. I had forgotten.

Greg has gotten a Hebrew word tattooed on his wrist since returning home. It is the word “Shemah,” and it means “listen.” After he got the tattoo, he asked me what I would get for mine (this is a complete joke because he knows I will NEVER get a tattoo). I thought about it and replied, “What is the Hebrew word for ‘faithfulness?'”

If God taught me anything in our time in Peru, it is that he is faithful. Going to that foreign country was a step of faith. Continuing to live in that foreign country was a step of faith. Enduring years of sadness and loneliness because I couldn’t speak the language well was a step of faith. The decision to have children and raise them away from my home country was a step of faith. Why do we take these steps when we can’t see what lies ahead? Because we choose to walk in the Spirit, and we know that we serve a faithful God. He tells us he will provide when we cannot see the provision. He tells us we can walk on water when we feel that we are sinking. He tells us we will survive the flames when the fire seems too hot to endure. He promises to be faithful, especially in those times when we are unsure and doubtful. (and his provision may look way different than that life of living comfortably, but it always causes us to grow and it is always enough.)

One of my favorite parts of Mark’s gospel (chapter 9) is the man that asks for his son to be healed but doubts.

21 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”

“From childhood,” he answered. 22 “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

23 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”

24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

25 When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the impure spirit.“You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”

26 The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.

First of all, I love how Jesus repeats the man’s question, “If you can?” The man has come to Jesus because he knows the stories of him healing so many. It’s not a question of can. The question is will he heal him. And then he mentions belief. Everything is possible for one who believes. The man replies with something that echoes in my head quite often: I do believe, but help me when I have trouble believing.

We sold our belongings and moved back to the states, because we feel that God has led us to this place. (It sounds a little bit like what we did before Peru, huh?). California is foreign to us. There have been and still are many unknowns to us, but we took a step of faith to come here.

I didn’t forget. I just needed reminding. God is ever faithful. He knows my heart and how much I love our children. But he also knows how to provide for us here… in this chapter of our lives. I can already see his fingerprints all over my job placement. He has made it very evident to me that I am in the right place.

You know what makes me giddy? Thinking about what God did through the work in Peru. Thinking about how inadequate I felt as a Spanish-speaker, and then getting to see Living Libraries become what it is today despite my inadequacies. I am giddy about starting my new job on Monday because I love doing what I am gifted to do. But I am most excited about what I cannot yet see. What does he have in store for his kingdom here that I will get to witness? I am in that place of feeling inadequate all over again, but it’s not about me. It’s about his kingdom and whether I choose to be part of it.

I am sad about not being with the kids, but somehow God is going to work it out. All he wants me to do is to take that step of faith. He will help me to overcome my unbelief.

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A Full-time Working Momma

Provision

We have received amazing support from our families, friends, and supporting churches since returning home from Peru. I have definitely been absent from blogging. A lot has happened in our time with my parents, and we have now made our move across the country to the beautiful state of California. Before this move, many prayers were lifted for some specific items of God’s provision. We believe that God is faithful and that he provides. Sometimes our impatience gets the best of us or we allow our worries to blur our steps of faith. Transitions in life are hard, especially if you are a planner (like me), and you don’t function well when not knowing what’s ahead. I write this post to reference God’s faithfulness to us in our reentry journey. He has been so good, and I still live by this biblical principle: to the one that much is given, much is expected (Lk 12:48). I know that he has given us so much.

We got to stop and see the majesty of the Grand Canyon on our trip out to CA.
We got to stop and see the majesty of the Grand Canyon on our trip out to CA.

1. Greg’s school

Greg submitted applications to three different PHD programs. It came down to Boston and Fuller. Fuller was his first choice, and Fuller was also the first option to fall into place. We are so thankful for the opportunity Greg has to study something he loves so much over the next three years with many respected experts in his field.

My sister-in-law gave me a great idea to take a pic of the kids in front of the Fuller sign this year, and then one our final month here.
My sister-in-law gave me a great idea to take a pic of the kids in front of the Fuller sign this year, and then one our final month here.

2. Housing

CA is expensive. To make a long story short, we were approved for Fuller campus housing. We found out that we would have a two-bedroom apartment. We arrived to our new home, and we absolutely love it. The apartment is a great lay-out for our family. There is plenty of space for the things that we brought. We live close to the campus and walking-distance from many shops. We couldn’t be happier regarding our housing situation.

our new street. We love the palm trees!
our new street. We love the palm trees!

3. A job

I am the main bread winner for the years we are here. It’s hard to be out of one’s profession for 8 years and expect to land a job in teaching in a state where one isn’t certified. I had some high-stress days back in the spring when I was getting my license renewed (that could be a whole other post by itself), but I renewed my license and am still waiting on my CA credentials to come through. Many LA schools require an English Learner’s Authorization (which I do not have). To be honest, I was a little nervous about finding a job without the correct credentials.

I signed my contract this week for a 6th grade math/science position! The school is a public charter school working to alleviate poverty in a gateway community of Los Angeles. The four hallmarks of the school are service learning, technology integration, projects-based learning, and parental involvement. After meeting with staff, seeing the school location, and waiting for other options, I am positive this is the place for me to be. I am receiving a good first-year salary, and they additionally provide an insurance benefit package for our family (a huge blessing!).***

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4. Our kids

The move has been hard. We are surrounded by other Fuller families with kids close to our kids’ ages. They are enjoying the playdates, and they seem to really like our new apartment. We are almost certain about an arts-based public school that the two oldest will attend this fall. We are located very closely to a large hispanic grocery store that carries many foods we love, including Inca Kola!!! That made the kids happy. We are still unsure of our PreK situation for Cohen, but we trust that something will work out soon.

Inside Out was the perfect movie to see our first week here.
Inside Out was the perfect movie to see our first week here.
and for a great price!
and for a great price!

So… how’s that for an update? We are so thankful for his provision. For any of you that pray for us, thank you. We are excited to be starting our Seminary (take 2) journey here in Pasadena, CA.

 

***I met with my HR department today. During that meeting, I got to meet the two executive heads of the charter school. One is Peruvian (his parents are from Lima and Cusco). The other is a graduate from Fuller! She called my hire a divine appointment. It doesn’t get more obvious than that for me. I shared with them that I have always dreamed of connecting Living Libraries to a school in the states. They are very interested in seeing what we can do for a future partnership. I have prayed that God would use me in a school setting that promotes parental involvement. This school has a 96% parent participation rate. I am so excited to work in my new school family and to learn and grow with those around me.

Provision

Learning to Swim

Our kids didn’t have many opportunities to swim in our time in Peru. Ana took lessons one summer, but it was like one teacher to 15 kids… impossible. For the last two weeks, 2 sweet sisters have been teaching my kids the way of swimming. I couldn’t be prouder of how much they learned. We literally went from all three in floaties to no one in floaties! Cohen even went from being scared of the water to jumping in and getting rings from the bottom. Our little fish are ready for the CA summers now. Thank you Sarah and Amanda for two amazing weeks! You have forever impacted my kids in the ways of water games. 🙂swimcollage5

We literally went from sitting by the pool and sprinkling water… to jumping into the deep end!

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Hooray for swimming!!!

Learning to Swim

Photoshop Peru

We have always gotten a good giggle out of our official photos taken here for new ID’s or passports. They majorly airbrush our faces and put color on our cheeks and lips. Today, Maggie’s teacher gave me her USB to copy off the graduation pics from her class. I got a really great giggle out of seeing these! I thought I would share. I love that they photoshopped entire scenes back behind them. It doesn’t look fake at all. 😉

Maggie Graduation Pic BEFORE…

 

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and AFTER…

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This next one is my favorite.

Maggie’s class picture where it was actually taken…

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And the new and improved photoshopped Arequipa edition…

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Isn’t that great!? Ha!

Photoshop Peru

CT–AQP “lasts” 2014

One thing that experts say is good for expats to do before leaving one of their “homes” is to make a list of their favorite places and plan a “last” visit in order to say goodbye. My kids will return to the states with their Pop and Gram on December 28. We have 29 days left to say some goodbyes. It is a good thing that some of them overlap.

The boy. Our sweet, Cohen Timothy. You entered the world as an Arequipeño looking like this…

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You will leave as an Arequipeño looking like this…

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taken in the Yanahuara Plaza by Eternity Fotos

You couldn’t be more excited to go to Pop’s farm in less than a month. You have no clue what is about to take place.

You cried that Manuela wouldn’t be at the house the last time we returned to Arequipa. You are upset when you don’t get to say goodbye to her when she leaves for the day. When we dropped Etelvina off after spending the afternoon with her, you cried that she wouldn’t come to the house to spend the night. (Ha!) You have such a tender heart, and you have won the hearts of two Peruvian grandmothers for sure. You will miss them so much, but you are so young, your memories will probably only be captured by the pictures we have taken, and believe me, I have taken plenty. 😉

I still thought it would be fun to ask you about your AQP favorites. You have completed an entire year of preschool all in Spanish with your 3 year old class. We are so proud of you. You will change so much by the time we return for our first visit back.

Places to visit:

  1. the playground close to our ASA house
  2. the café (unfortunately, it shut down a few months back)

Foods to eat:

  1. Ají de Gallina
  2. chicken enchiladas (apparently AQP style)
  3. apples and strawberry/vanilla yogurt
  4. Queso Helado

What is one of your favorite memories of living in Arequipa?

firetruck birthday

What is your favorite Arequipa dish?

 Ají de Gallina

What will you miss the most about living here?

 Daddy and Mommy and Manuela (you apparently understand that we aren’t going with you in December)

What are you most excited about moving to the states?

the playroom (Pop and Gram’s) and playing with bicycles and basketballs outside and their playground castle

Anything else???

I am going to miss my playroom upstairs.

 

CT–AQP “lasts” 2014

MK–AQP “lasts” 2014

One thing that experts say is good for expats to do before leaving one of their “homes” is to make a list of their favorite places and plan a “last” visit in order to say goodbye. My kids will return to the states with their Pop and Gram on December 28. We have 29 days left to say some goodbyes. It is a good thing that some of them overlap.

Maggie Kate, you were our first AQP-born TCK. You were a full head of hair with two giant blue eyes…

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and we are leaving Perú with you looking like this…

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taken in the Yanahuara Plaza by Eternity Fotos

You are in Kindergarten with your big promoción (Kinder graduation) coming up at the end of the month. You are so excited to get to wear a “princess dress” like your sister did for her graduation (we will rent the dress). Your class picked the color “lila” which is the same color as Sophia the First. 😉 We are excited for you, and what makes your graduation extra special is that Pop and Gram will get to be here for it!

You told me in the taxi this morning that Daddy told you (while I was gone somewhere) that it’s okay to be sad this coming month. You know we are moving back to the states, but you are at such a great age to make the transition. I am so delighted that you completed all three years of preschool in Spanish. Now, you are most excited to get to live near your cousin Ruby and to start in a new school.

It was a little bit harder to get your “lasts” recorded, but we will try our best to make your last memories here some of your best! We love our Maggicita!!!

Places to visit:

  1. the zoo (your school just had a field trip there this past Friday)
  2. Shaye and Cora’s house

Foods to eat:

  1. Manuela´s Ají de Gallina (surprise, surprise. It is on the menu for every other week until you leave!)
  2. Etelvina´s Papa a la Huancaína (We are making a date to eat this with her while Pop and Gram are here.)
  3. King Burger (I had to write it out just as you said it. It’s Burger King, and it tickles us that you have nooooooo idea what a good hamburger should taste like. Living on an angus beef farm for 6 months should cure that.)
  4. Chili’s cheese dip (you would request this at almost every restaurant birthday meal)

 

What is one of your favorite memories of living in Arequipa?

going to Shaye and Cora’s house and play with each other

What is your favorite Arequipa dish?

Ají de Gallina and Papa a la Huancaína

What will you miss the most about living here?

 Miss Yomara (your teacher that you have had for all three years of preschool)

What are you most excited about moving to the states?

We will see Ruby and Sam… and Judah, and that I am going to start a new school.

Anything else???

  • I am going to miss my best friend from my school, Ana Paula.
  • I am so excited about my promoción!
MK–AQP “lasts” 2014