Prior to coming to Paraguay, I spent two years working as a Family Advocate at an emergency domestic violence shelter. As one might assume, it was an emotionally burdensome job and the hours did not help. Commanding the 12pm-9pm shift five days a week effectively eliminated any sort of social aspect from my life, and it was really quite isolating.

So as I prepared to come to Paraguay, B and I spent a lot of time praying that I would find community here. I defined community as friends. Although, babies that I did not have to produce myself and could snuggle were also considered acceptable alternatives.

Despite my haughty and specific demands, the Lord manifest His grace in ways more sweet than I ever imagined. These four dumplings have been the light and laugh of my last two years. Amidst bouts of loneliness, ministry frustration, homesickness, and every other dark force I encountered on occasion, these nuggets remained a constant source of love, adorable antics, and yes, snuggles.

I am ever so thankful for this family and these little faces.

IMAG0677Literal bosom buddies.

IMAG0659Hole-in-one.

IMAG0678Baby Forest.

IMAG0631Dancing queens.

Dinosaur Love: Fambly.

May 16, 2013

IMAG0531This is one of my favorite pictures of B and I (right and left, respectively).
K, the talented artist, is also the little nugget in the middle.

Both of my parents come from large families of five siblings. I have always loved the loud, boisterous gatherings we had growing up–so many personalities, so many different houses to visit, so much food, and so much love. My one regret was not having any cousins my age, but there were plenty of little minions to boss around and frankly, that was perfect for my domineering oldest child tendencies.

Now that I am older, I only find more reasons to cherish being part of such a tight-knit extended family. It is a massive and priceless support network of people who have been an important part of my life from either my birth or theirs, and also a source of endless entertainment. Sometimes I get sad that my brother and I are only two and B and his brother the same, and that unless we all pump out children like we’re Mormons with no tomorrow, our kids will likely grow up with significantly smaller reunions.

This may have engendered the occasional big family aspiration. Fortunately (or something), I’ve heard child birth is painful and that terrifies me, so those thoughts are of an ephemeral nature. Too many children is completely out of the question…too many being three or more.

And then there was cooking class to seal the deal for all eternity.

Initially, I was stoked about my biggest turnout ever. Nine kids! I was all, “2013 has been great for Lo’s Kitchen and we are gaining more students with each passing week and blah blah woohoo blah!!!”

Then reality set in. That reality was that every single rascal apparently chugged a gallon of Redbull shortly before coming to class, and everybody was experiencing a simultaneous crazycrazycrazy surge that lasted the duration of class and then some. Seriously, I thought I was going to lose my head (my voice was already a hopeless cause).

THEY WERE BARBARIANS.

Wild, uncontrollable savages from a forsaken jungle where children are mainlined sugar through constant IV drips. I thought about getting my tubes tied and I’m not even married yet.

Not that I have ever considered something as terror-inducing as producing nine children, but we will see if I can even muster up the courage to hold cooking class again next week much less have any sort of family in the future. I’m not even sure I’ll be able to eat mashed potatoes for a long time.

Phew.

They look deceptively calm and orderly in these photos. NEVER TRUST PICTURES.Lo's Kitchen 003Lo's Kitchen 007Learning to use a vegetable peeler.

Lo's Kitchen 012Lo's Kitchen 014Knives were definitely not my wisest decision.

Lo's Kitchen 015Lo's Kitchen 016Mashed potato madness.

Lo's Kitchen 009NEVER.

Twenty-Cinco.

July 20, 2012

I have celebrated many a birthday outside of the U.S. This year: Paraguay.

For someone who spends so much time in her own head, I find it kind of remarkable that I have never really given much thought to where I’d be at 25. I suppose since it sounded old and far off, I assumed I’d simply have it figured out.

But here I am and…I don’t. After some cursory reflection this week, I actually find myself a little embarrassed at how unsettled life still is at this quarter-century mark. I look around and see friends my age who have been married for years, nestled into the domestic bliss of stable careers, purchasing homes, and making babies (and lots of them at that). I’m still wracking my brain about what I want to do “when I grow up.”

I struggled as an academic during my time at UCSD–it was just so difficult for me to muster up sufficient interest in subject matters that didn’t inspire straight out fiery passion in me. I dabbled in crisis intervention social work and that almost broke me. And while I am convicted this is where God wants me for now, I’m fairly certain a lifetime of overseas missionary work is not where I’m headed either.

Furthermore, my predilections towards possible future endeavors are strangely balanced, so it is hard to say that any one thing in particular jumps out at me. Graduate school? Cooking school? Back to the working world of fixed schedules and paychecks? So much ambivalence.

These things I do know to be true: I am inordinately good at consuming large amounts of black coffee. Baking fruit muffins with crumble topping is kind of my forte. World travel is my soul song. I have great parents and the best batch of best friends. And even though long-distance ranks up there with poop on my shoe, genocide, and boxed mashed potatoes (tongue-in-cheek, peeps), I love doing life with someone who inspires me daily with their stability and optimism.

Food, family, friends, livable wanderlust, and love–really, I’ve got it all. There is a richness in life that, in spite of the foggy uncertainty and momentary lack of direction, brings fullness and reminds me this is a great place to be. I also know that He abides and His plans are good. And if there is anything I have learned in the last twenty-five years, it is that He brings clarity in His timing and His timing is perfect.

Here’s to twenty-five more delicious ones full of new flights, sights, and flavors. Cheers!