How well do you know your spouse?

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The first real conversation I EVER had with my husband did not take place while we were dating.

It did NOT take place during pre-marital counseling.

It did NOT take place on our honeymoon…Or even the year after that.

The first real conversation I EVER had with my husband took place 15 years after we had been together.

And the only reason the conversation took place was because our marriage was at the point of pain.

Which is funny, because two years after we were married, Richard and I were camping in the Austrian Alps. We were in a tent, and it was our first summer living abroad. We didn’t have any money—maybe like $200 to our names, and we decided that we needed to leave Poland for a bit. So, even if it cost every penny we had, we knew we had to do it. Therefore, we hopped on a very Eastern European train and said, “Take us away!”

We literally threw our bikes on, and we were off for a little over a week.

And while we were in the Alps, sleeping amongst such beauty, we decided to play a very childish game.

It is one that I recommend all married couples play.

Truth or Dare.

Oh my! We had so much fun asking questions and hearing answers, chiding each other into doing something dumb if we didn’t want to answer, and learning things about one another that we never really knew.

But the thing is…that conversation was also very shallow. Everything we learned was all in good fun. So, I guess you could say that even though we were trying to play a game called “Truth” both of us still had parts to our lives that we had yet to share.

It wasn’t until 10 years after that fun game in the Austrian Alps that Richard and I actually sat down and had a true conversation from the heart. One where we actually learned about the other.

Fifteen years after being together.

Today, our lives are far more beautiful because we actually know one another. And, although the Alps were full of lots of hilarity and laughter, I wouldn’t want to go back to that superficial time in our marriage for anything.

When we were at a conference once, one of the sessions was on marriage. And the elderly couple, slightly disheveled, walked up to the front of the stage. Before they even began speaking, I thought—Really? They are the ones that will present on marriage? They look slightly out of place.

That’s when they spoke. And it hit me. They did not look the part of professional speakers—but their words hit the hearts of the core of marriage.

In marriage you each come carrying your own suitcase. It is not a bag of packed clothes and toiletries. It is a bag of your past.

Your past choices. Your past actions. Your past hurts. Your family’s past.

And, no matter what, this packed bag comes with you into your new life.

What many people try to do is shelf this suitcase in their closet.

But the thing is…the suitcase never goes away. It remains there. In the closet. And when your life is going one way or another, you may wonder why.

The answer, most likely, lies in that suitcase that you have tried to hide. In the back of your closet.

And until you pull it out and share with your spouse what items you have packed and brought into your marriage, you will never ever really know one another.

Because to know one another, you have to know everything.

I was in awe with their presentation. I don’t even recall their names. But I wish that I could thank them again for sharing something that is so true.

Today I ask you, “How many others are out there like Richard and I used to be? Never really having an honest conversation with one another through 3 years of dating and 12 years of marriage? A total of 15 years and multiple children together.”

How many of you actually KNOW your spouse?

Perhaps you are lightyears ahead of the rest of us.

For those that are like Richard and I were, I pray that you will find the time to really sit down, open your suitcases, and get to know one another.

Because that is when you will truly fall in love.

xo for now,
b

There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life – fear of death, fear of judgment – is one not yet fully formed in love.  1 John 4:18, The Message

Photos of our Dancing Ada…Sweet Adelyne!

sisters

Here is our Sweet Adelyne!

xoxo from here to there,
b

ada preparing for her dance

ada dancing

ada and her dancing partner

The above photos are of the dance that Adelyne and 3 others performed while 2 of the students sang the song.  Adelyne was so excited—but she couldn’t believe that she had to dance with a BOY!  Ah the fun of being a kid.

the next dance

sweet adelyne

the girls created this dance themselves

doing the splits

the sweetest bunch of friends EVER

This dance was choreographed by Adelyne and her friends.  They were so excited to create a dance and perform their very own creation for the grandparents.  They did a FANTASTIC job and looked as cute as could be in the process (these are also Adelyne’s best friends at school).

the headmaster and the welcome

the grandparents

Here the headmaster of the school is welcoming the grandparents of the 1 and 3 grade classes to the presentation (It was the 1st and 3rd grade classes that performed).

alan the forest hedgehog

little red riding hood

grandma

the hunter to the rescue

The students that were not in the dances were in the play Little Red Riding Hood (especially fitting since there is a grandma in the play, right?).  They were phenomenal and OH SO CUTE!

Guess who was the biggest fan of the entire show?  JOSEPHINE!  She watched almost the entire play and the dances and all of the songs like this:

sweet josephine

Anyhow—hope you enjoyed the photos.  If you didn’t have a chance to watch the YouTube videos of the dances, I hope that you’ll click on the link and go right to them.  They are as cute as can be.

(Of course, my camerawork is a bit shaky considering I am also monitoring a very mobile 1 year old at the same time)

The dancing ballerinas:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nv5gdDUUzMo

The dancing gals:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ygYbewb2BoY

Grace. God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense

because sometimes your church is lucky enough to have a car!

I hardly ever get to sit through one of my husband’s sermons. For several reasons. One, I have a toddler.  Two, I have a baby.  Three, I teach Sunday school.  Because of a lack of a nursery and teaching Sunday school, I can’t hardly recall the last time I sat through one of my husband’s sermons.

Our church is a small international church that meets at the Sheraton hotel in Poznan, Poland.  It’s called Poznan International Church and was established in 1997. We absolutely love it!  My husband has been the lead pastor there since May of 2002 (the exemption being the year and the half we lived in the States).

On any given Sunday, you will find roughly 16 languages under one roof—all worshipping one God. That’s pretty darn awesome, right?! Right!

This Sunday we didn’t have church in the general meeting room where we normally have service because there was a conference also taking place on the same day. So we met at the restaurant downstairs called Someplace Else. It is a fantastic restaurant with a great atmosphere.The walls display hundreds of signed photographs or musical or sports memorabilia that the General Manager, Marco, has collected for the Sheraton over the years where he has been GM.

On top of that, it is a cozy area where we meet. And, guess what! Children are full-on in the same place where we are. Does that cause some disruptions? You betcha! I feel like half the time I spend reminding little voices to quiet down and little boys to stop climbing equipment. But, overall, there is something beautiful when we all gather together at the restaurant bar for church.

We sit next to each other. We converse in the service together. And, after church, no one is in a hurry to go. And so we share for hours with one another our lives.

It’s a blessing. And you will never leave with a frown. I guarantee it.

Back to Richard’s sermon for today. It was a a beautiful sermon for me to hear. It was on Grace.

Sometimes we hear this word and forget how powerful its meaning is. Richard shared an acronym with church.  Grace stands for:

G—God’s

R—Riches

A—At

C—Christ’s

E—Expense

You know. I think that as Christians we sometimes become too callous to grace. We think—we have given our lives to you, God, give us grace! It’s almost as if we demand it. And we shouldn’t. Because grace is a gift. It is undeserved. And it came at a great cost.

Grace—God gives it to us for free. But Grace came at the cost of Christ.

So, I would like to end by simply reminding you… Accept the beautiful gift of God’s favor undeserved through Grace—but never forget to appreciate that it, Grace, is a beautiful gift that came at a great cost.  And then go and live your lives in respect of this fact, glorifying God in all that you do.

Be beautiful examples of God’s grace here on earth.  Be a gift of grace to your family, your friends, your neighbors, your coworkers.  Set the world on fire for the love that God offers us through his son, Jesus Christ!

Amen.

The God-setting-things-right that we read about has become Jesus-setting-things-right for us. And not only for us, but for everyone who believes in him…God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.   Romans 3:22, 23 (The Message)

Grandmother and Grandfather’s Day. Dzien Dziadek i Babcia.

little red riding hood

“In America, all you would do is make a card for your grandma and grandpa,” stated my daughter.

This came about when we were having a conversation about whether or not she was glad to be back in Poland.

Two days ago, her class performed Little Red Riding Hood, the play, did two dances, and sang multiple songs for the grandpas and grandmas in the audience.

My daughter gave up a visit to the States so that she could be there for this special day, even though her grandparents were thousands upon thousands of miles and an ocean and a continent away in Arizona and California respectively.

You have to understand, my daughter feels Polican, as she says. Polish and American, and she speaks Pinglish. For Polish and English.

We are so above and beyond grateful to God that she feels this way. We have instilled in her the utmost to bloom where planted, and we are planted by God in the country of Poland.

And, for that very reason, my daughter attends Polish school and participates in all celebrations that Poland holds dear. We love her school and all that it does.

You need to understand, as well, that our daughter’s school is extremely small. It is a K-8th grade school that had its gymnasium built by the European Union, and, until this past fall, had absolutely no playground.

Before the playground was built, my daughter was asked by some friends and family what she did during recess.

Well, the first thing you should know is that my daughter does not technically have recess. She has 5-minute breaks between her 45-minute classes. Otherwise, her school day is only the hours that she has class.

That can mean that her “school day” is for 3 hours one day or 5 hours on her longest day—and that is only because she goes in for a 45-minute session of PSL (Polish as a Second Language). Otherwise her school day is 4 hours.

At first, such short days were huge adjustments. But as the year went on, we have grown to really love the short school days. It gives us an opportunity to enroll Adelyne in multiple activities but it doesn’t take us until bedtime to complete them.

This is what she participates in during the typical week:

Mondays—horse lessons and swimming.  This is her late night.

Tuesdays—nothing but play.

Wednesdays—French lessons and then we swing by our office where she has her “library”

Thursdays—Nothing but play with her best friend!  Thursdays she only has 3 hours of school.

Fridays—Dance after school.  At the school.  Very convenient and she loves it (it is an outside company that comes in)

Youth group is a Friday night event.

Anyhow—back to the recess question.  Adelyne was asked, “What do you do during recess since you don’t have a playground?”  She responded, “We run and jump and skip!”

I loved that.  Even in simplicity, children find great joys.  Sometimes I believe that we try to incorporate too much (I am just as guilty as the next) into their lives when all children really need is dirt.  And like we all heard growing up, “Dirt don’t hurt!”

This week as we celebrated the grandparents that were able to attend, I thought of the spectacular assembly the teachers prepared and the students prepared for and I realized—this was very special.  So special that it would not have taken place in the States.

First of all, to be very fair, in the States, most people don’t even live near their grandparents.  Very few people live where they were born in the States.  That is just the reality there.  In fact, people will gladly move where they will find work.  Even if it means hours upon hours away from their families.

In Poland, people tend to live (generally speaking it is still very true to this day) where they were born.  Therefore, they have large amounts of relatives right nearby—including grandparents.  Poland has yet to become a very transient society.  Yes, many migrate outside of Poland for work.  But, for those Poles remaining in Poland, a very large population still live very near in proximity to where they were born.

This is EXTREMELY evident at Dzien Dziadek i Babcia.  The auditorium was FILLED with grandparents.  It was such a blessing to see.

Having a daughter that lives thousands upon thousands of miles away from her grandparents, I loved that as I glanced around at the event, there was a sea of elderly faces and hair of wisdom.  And oh my!  They were all dressed up to a T and just as proud as could be as they watched their posterity perform just for them.

It was really special.

And Adelyne got to experience it because we are in Poland.

Oh—and dance in it!

So, today, I give to you my daughter in a super adorable dance that she got to participate in for Grandparents Day in Poland.

Her stats on the day of this event:  Adelyne Marguerite; age 8; 3rd Class; Grandparents’ Day Celebration ballerina (in the light pink skirt).  Enjoy!

If you are a grandpa or grandma, no matter where you are in the world, we celebrate you!

Enjoy!

xoxo

b

Here is the link to dance number 2:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ygYbewb2BoY&feature=youtu.be

My hubby the builder.

We have been married for 14 years. Going on 15. In all of these years, we have lived in many places. Two countries. And plenty of cities.

Did you know that the summer before we moved to Poland that we lived at a camp in Prescott, Arizona? It was a part of my husband’s job at the non-profit where he worked. And, part of working at the camp, he had to live there. The thing is—we were still in our honeymoon phase and wanted to live together.

I had the summer free, as a teacher, so they consented (they being his work) to allowing Rich and I to go to camp to live there together. The difficulty was the lodging. Of course, summer camps are made for cabins with the campers.

SOOOOO…they sent us to the top of the mountain, past many large bouldering rocks perfect for mountain-lion lurching or coyote running, and stuck us in a very remote and very old cabin.

We had holes in the walls. Spiders, every day I had to clean them out of the bathroom tub. And mice made their home in our refrigerator—which was unplugged and was serving dual-fold. 1 as our wardrobe, as we had no wardrobe. And 2 as home to Mickey and Minnie—thankfully our clothes and their home resided on different refrigerator shelves.

Anyhow.  It was a fantastic summer on a mountain, living with mice, walking dangerously past mountain lion boulders (or so I always imagined them to be), watching families of javelinas trespass on our front door stoop, and making a hot tub out of an old horse trough, under the stars.  Twas fun indeed.

Then we moved to Poland.  It was fun there, too.  Our first flat I wrote about in a blog posting on simplicity and contentment.  It was on the fourth floor.

Our second flat in Poland was on the third floor of a new apartment but fully UNFURNISHED ;)  Which means we did a lot of laundry washing in the tub and a lot of supper eating on the floor.  And a whole lot of sleeping on the floor—good thing our backs were young back then, too.

Our third flat was in an old part of Poznan near the center of the city that was very famously known for the 1956 uprisings.  I will write about it one time.

Our fourth place in Poland was a house.  Connected to our landlord’s house.  AND his über crazy wife.  And when I say UBER.  I mean UBER UBER.  And the neighbor was just as crazy.  Perhaps it was a qualification to live in that area?  Anyhow, our across the road neighbors redeemed the neighborhood for us—and they even had wandering hedgehogs that they would feed daily.  So that was always a thrill for our daughter to see.

And our last place is our current place.  It’s an old farmhouse that was brick gray when we first moved in…like communist brick gray.  The grounds are extensive, and the neighbors have had the land in their families for the last 150 years.  It’s a small farmhouse—with a basement that floods.  Believe me===I have sloshed around in a good 5-6 inches of water in the basement just to stoke the coal so that my daughter and I would have heat during the dead of the winter during one of Poland’s worst Siberian storms.  WORST!  And, of course, my husband was traveling through the States being fed steak and potatoes from so many lovely friends and supporters.  Let’s just say, he came home via train (due to the car battery being frozen dead) and two frozen popsicle girls that have yet to stoke the coal EVER again—well, until he leaves me again and I am forced to keep my children warm, that is ;)

Anyhow.  In the process and time of living on this farm lot—we have done a lot of work.  And our landlord has had the outside painted.  So now it is white with a red stone-looking base.  It looks great—and the yard, in great hopes, will be next.

But in the process, because the home didn’t have a functioning kitchen, has been a huge work in process.  One that my husband has done a GREAT job at…for ME!  And boy was I surprised when I walked into our home after my short trip to the States.

Is it complete—well, nearly.  I still desire a new oven hood.  But we all have dreams, don’t we?!

Now, putting the dream on hold, I would like to present for you—for the 1st time in our 14 going on 15 years of marriage—my very own kitchen!  It’s a big day, my friends.  A BIG day!!!  All kudos to my husband that built and our God that gave…

I.Love.It!

Yea for me (can I proclaim that?!)!!!

eatour house

A few signs propped here and there just for fun!

happycoffee and friends

Coffee is a pleasure—and DOES make me happy.  So does my family.  And food.  All fitting signs for my kitchen!

chalkboard cheffamily candle

My daughter wrote on our “Chef” (the theme of our kitchen) chalkboard before Christmas…It has been a little busy since.  But the message is still beautiful for every day—the message of the gift of Jesus!  And, of course, FAMILY reigns again—the photo of our 3!  Blessings from above.

love you morekitchen nearly done

Here is our dining table.  yes, it is extremely small.  It was purchased when we had 2 in our family.  Me.  Richard.  That’s it.  As our family expanded, our table magically did not.  We have not found one that we like yet–and so I am in the process of painting and renovating the table.  It looks as if it would be easy work.  Well, any painting project for me is not easy.  Or quick.  So, it is a half-painted table with half-painted chairs…with GREAT hopes of being a black and white border checkered table with a white bench and red chairs that should bring pizazz to our kitchen!  Yippee!

*If you do notice, our kitchen leads to our living room—which has yet to be painted and will still need photos of our family hung.  But it is looking GREAT, too.  And, obviously, yes.  We believe in foam and nerf weapons in our home.  They are great amounts of fun!

And last but not least…my lovely kitchen (not seen in its entirety due to my lacking photographic skills—but you can get a gist of the loveliness to it all)…

Voile!

kitchen by my hubby!

Home.Sweet.Home…Especially in my kitchen!

Thank you my better half of crazy!

xo always,

your b

The Return of GoGo Baby and her Momma…

Last year I shared a photo when my husband returned after a month of travels to Africa. It was of my daughter and son—and my son simply laid his head on my husband’s lap, in awe of his daddy and his closeness and presence.

Sometimes as the mom, since we are typically the “No” parent, we wonder how our presence is felt when we are not there or what our homecoming would be like.

After all, Daddy is always “So Much Fun!” and the “Tickle Fight King!” And the list goes on…

Me, as Mommy—Well, I am the do your homework, clean your room, brush your teeth—EXCUSE ME?! lady.

Yet. Just yet…They must have missed me quite a bit these past two weeks when I went to America to help my mommy out (she broke her shoulder and had emergency surgery) because I got a glorious homecoming from the one that made me a momma and the other that fought with his entire being to live (and live he did thanks to the Grace of God and your prayers around the world)…

And Daddy got his baby back. His final baby. She was tired and in shock. And just as cuddly as could be. She is her daddy’s girl—although in the photo, you may wonder ;) Chalk it up to jet travels. The two days we have been home since, she has trailed after him in the home continually shouting, “Dadda! Dadda! Dadda!” and then just stares and smiles at him until he responds.

All in all, my journey finally brought me home to my babies and my Richie…And Josephine and I couldn’t be happier. Because together, as 5, we are complete.

Xo for now from here to there. My next cultural blog post will be…
Europe! It makes it easy for you to get fat.

So stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy our glorious reunion…

b

waitingwhen is momma going to come?

Waiting for Momma…

daddy's baby is back!gogo baby has arrived

But GoGo Baby came first!

mommy's home!

After I gathered all the luggage, I finally arrived.

And I was in heaven with my hugs and cuddles.

i get them both!complete!

Rich and I still have yet to take a photo.  It’s probably because we are now in survival mode with jet lag taking over the warped bodies and minds of Brooke and Josephine.  But we get to go to Kalisz on Thursday for the celebration dinner from our Christmas in the Square (raising money for children with cancer) event.  Perhaps then we’ll snap a childless shot together.  And, maybe-just maybe, I won’t fall asleep at the event.  We will have to wait and see.

Ciao for now (or Pa in Polish).

As always.  We love you…

B and R

I broke my bra. The saga of nursing in America!

About 200 eyes fixated on me. The tired and weary, haggard world traveler that had been toting my 11-month-old halfway across the world all day. We were two airplanes down, 2 continents nearly flown completely over. More time zones than I know. And one Atlantic Ocean safely crossed.

I was tired. Baby was tired. And we had time before our last flight. That’s when it hit me! My epiphany! Pure brilliance.

Problem. I was now in America and America makes it REALLY hard for me to be brilliant.

So this is how the story goes…

2015/01/img_8354.jpg

I have 3 children.  THREE!  And I have raised most of them in Poland. Land of the free.  Free to nurse, that is.

I am not a hootie-hider, cover myself, hide in the bathroom stall, nursing momma.  I am a very European, baby needs to eat, nurse your child while you continue to have conversation and sip your latte, type of woman.

To be honest—I drive my lovely American girlfriends batty.  They all offer me hootie-hiding contraptions all of the time.

No.Thank.You, my lovely friends.

On my way to America, I nursed my baby on flight number one while seated next to a MBA student from Mexico.  No problem.  And then she slept.  The entire plane’s passengers, if they weren’t in such a hurry to hustle to their connecting flights, would probably have liked to thank me for it.

Plane number 2.  The big one.  The nearly 11-hour-flight one.  Swedish University Student to my left, Polish business couple to my right.  Me.  Smack in the middle.  Nursed my baby multiple times while carrying on conversations.  Bam!  Super happy baby.  All 11 hours.  Super happy passengers all around me.

Plane number 3.  Take off and landing on American soil.  Uh-oh!  I already could sense the trouble.  Americans LOVE organic.  Must pay super duper lots of money for healthy produce, healthy meat, healthy diet regimens, and healthy air filters, and healthy…Okay.  You get the idea.

But, heaven forbid, a woman nurse her child in public.  And then America is out for UNHEALTHY, UNSANITARY, UNCOMFORTABLE…No baby boobies in public, please!

But do you think that stops me?!  Well…As I glanced around at the 100 plus uncomfortable looking people, I thought to myself, I will be uber kind today and nurse before the airplane.  THAT WAY…That way, baby will be fed, happy, and sleep the entire flight from Colorado to Arizona.  Baby wins.  Uber sensitive American traveling passengers win.  All around, everyone wins.

But, you see…America has the problem with fixation and sensationalizing everything.

The minute that I sat down to discreetly nurse (not using a hootie hider but still able to usually nurse very politely), it seemed as if the news media brought out cameras and everyone—old, young, male, female…EVERYONE could only focus on me—the nursing mom.  My baby.  Oh heavens, you soon-to-be-travelers.  You woke the sleeping giant!

As all eyes were on me.  Literally.  Stopping.  Staring.  Focusing on my plight and struggle.  As all eyes were on me, my baby grew more and more agitated.  And the more I tried to politely nurse, the more and more people stopped, turned, and stared.

Not wanting to become the National Headliner that a lot of nursing moms become, I tried to be even more careful—by this time, baby is tired (in her time, it was nearly 3am), I have completely covered myself up, and now the entire room of waiting passengers can’t seem to do anything but stare at my chest, my screaming baby, and the fact that I am TRYING to discreetly nurse.  Seriously?  Doesn’t everyone have smart phones nowadays?  Can’t they get on them and find SOMETHING else to do?  Anything?  Nope?  Nothing???

And that’s when it happened.  Baby was tired of American etiquette and went all Hulk-like on momma!

Josephine, apparently, did not care if mommy was about to make national news by offending fellow travelers and nursing in public.  My 11-month-old was like, “Oh yeah, take that!”  And pop!  There you have it.  She broke my bra and finished nursing.

Yep.  My bra broke.  The saga of nursing in America.  And there is a moral to this story.

Here it is:

If you are uncomfortable when a mommy is trying to nurse her baby, perhaps turn a different direction and go about your own business.  Otherwise, baby will make sure you are SUPER uncomfortable later .

And like Kenny Rogers sings, “You’ve got to know when to hold em; know when to fold em; know when to walk away; know when to RUN…” because this nursing momma ain’t going nowhere!