Friday, October 31, 2014

Team Chari: Baby Name Drama

My husband and I, we are so very different.  We are actually total opposites in every way.  We have two things in common:
1. We love Jesus
2. We love each other

We make a good team.  Most days that is enough for a strong foundation in our relationship. Most days.  Today is not one of those days.

Today we are talking baby names.  We found out we were expecting this little one in early June.  Since then we have many conversations about names... They usually go like this:

Me: "Here are 399 names that I am totally happy with.... Please choose some that you like.  Even one would be great."

Hours later

Him: "well I looked at the names and I don't like any of them.  Here are a zillions reasons why each of those names are not the name for our baby."


So I gave up on the name thing and decided that eventually,before the poor child turns 18, we will bestow a name upon him or her.

Then last week this man of mine said out of nowhere, "Let's each choose our five favorite girls names and our five favorite boys names and we will go over them together on Saturday."

Ahhhhhhh maybe this little one will have a name after all!

Until then I will be searching for 10 wonderfully meaningful names that I would like to name my little one.... Hopefully one of which will match Nyasha's list or at least not be vetoed by him!

Pray for us.  This could be interesting!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Baby Chari: The Big Questions


I know that our pregnancy announcement has surprised (and excited) many of you and given lots of questions, so I will do my best to answer them all!

Q:  Is Baby Chari a boy or a girl?

A: Baby is one of those! God and our doctor know which one, but we have decided to wait until we are in the delivery room to find out.  Those of you who know us can guess who made this decision (hint, hint: it was not the impatient mommy!)  Nyasha really wants to experience this surprise and I want to give that to him—but I won’t lie, at every doctor appointment I pray that someone will slip and say “he or she” hahahaha

Your guess is as good as ours.  I think Baby is a boy, but we will know soon enough!

Q:  Will we remain in Zimbabwe on the mission field with the baby?

A: Absolutely.  I was certain of my call to Zimbabwe before I met Nyasha, long before we married and even more so now that we are serving God together.  I was worried about how this would work out in terms of my ability to serve, but when the people I work with learned of my pregnancy they were thrilled and feel that this experience just continues to validate my voice in the context in which I work.  I, like many women in Zimbabwe will strap baby to my back and get on with my work… I am sure that our caregiver training groups will be more exciting with a real baby as opposed to a therapy doll! I anticipate that they will also be slightly noisier as well!  (Baby wearing mamas I’d love your opinions on wraps and carriers!)

Q: How does Ru feel about being a big sister?

A: This was our biggest concern regarding the early timing of this baby; however I have to say that I was surprised at how excited she has been!  Nyasha’s brother and sister in law had their third baby last December and Ru was enchanted by Tina from the beginning.  She loves having a baby cousin and at that point instructed us that “We could have a baby anytime” but that she would prefer twins!  We knew that our baby would be a slightly different story and that there would be lots of emotions… and there have been.  She is so excited—and our doctor has been so great with her! He let her come into one appointment and see the baby on the ultrasound.  Her face lit up when she heard the heartbeat and she couldn’t take her eyes off the screen.  The baby didn’t disappoint, he or she turned its little head and looked straight ahead and scratched its head! Ru was amazed and the doctor printed a picture that she has been carrying around ever since! She is convinced that baby is a little girl and she has already begun creating a duty roster that will allow her to hold the baby the most.  But she told us not to worry, that we will be able to hold Lucy (the dog who thinks she is a baby!)  

This does not mean that this transition will be easy.  We know that there are moments where she wonders about her history, the time she was in the womb and most importantly her birth mother.  We know that seeing this baby have experiences that she did not have will bring up more that we need to work on, but she also knows that we are in this together.  This little girl has our whole hearts and she knows that we are not afraid of the ways in which these transitions stretch us as a family. 

This was Ru when she found out she was going to be a big sister.  The preciousness in this photo is just too much.

Q: Will the baby be a citizen of the USA?

A: Yes.  Thank you for being concerned about these details!  The baby will be a citizen of the USA based on my citizenship.  At this time dual citizenship is not allowed between the USA and Zimbabwe, so we have to choose one.  For many reasons, we have made the choice for baby to be a US citizen.

Q:  Will we have baby in Zimbabwe or the USA?

A:  This is another million dollar question.  Although there are reasons that we would choose to have the baby in both places (mainly because we have so many people we love in both places) we have decided that if all goes according to plan, baby will be born early February in Michigan.  My family is there and they have so graciously allowed us to experience so much that they missed out on (including our wedding) that we really want to be able to be with them when baby is born.  

At this point it looks like I will travel over at the end of November.  I will spend Thanksgiving in California (my first American Thanksgiving in 10 years!!!!!!!) And Nyasha will travel over at Christmas time (his first American Christmas EVER!!!)   Nyasha will stay with us until he needs to get back to work and as soon as the doctors say we are good to go, baby and I will head back to Zimbabwe.

Q: What do we need/how can you help?

A: I am completely overwhelmed by the idea of creating a list of necessary baby things! It’s madness!  However I do know that there are some things that we need to borrow and some that we need to bring back with us.  Here is what we know we need so far:

  •   A place to stay in Michigan (preferably a house-sitting gig for some snow-birds for Jan and Feb)
  • A car to borrow in Michigan (Anytime from early December on)
  • Maternity clothes (for winter, Michigan is COLD!!)
  •  Various baby stuff…. This will be a post for another day!
  •   Flights (if anyone has any air miles that they would like to share with us, we would appreciate it!)

Q: How can we pray for you?

A: This has been a tough pregnancy.  I have been quite ill, catching pretty much anything that comes my way—from stomach bugs to conjunctivitis! Please just pray that baby and I will remain healthy and that our travel is uneventful! Pray for peace for Nyasha as he prepares to take time off to be with us in the USA when the baby comes.  Please pray that Ru continues to be excited as she is promoted to Big Sister and that she openly explore all of her emotions during this time.  Pray that God continue to provide for all of our needs, as He most certainly has so far!  Our big prayer is that this transition of welcoming a new baby home is as enjoyable as our transition into marriage was, we have laughed and connected so well and we hope this continues as we add a new transition to our list of life experiences.  We appreciate your prayers and love so very much! 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Team Chari: Our poor baby--crazy counting and Nyasha’s cravings!

We are currently around 24 weeks pregnant.   

You would think that at this point I would learn what that means… or at least be able to keep track.  But I just don’t get it.  Every pregnancy website I stumble upon or every pregnant woman I converse with seems to have this insane ability to count in a new way.  22+4, 17+3 these are the mystical numbers that seem to tell other people who understand, how many weeks and days into these 40 weeks of pregnancy you are.  Well my brain just doesn’t wrap around this system.  So, I am somewhere between 22-24 weeks pregnant and honestly that’s the best I can do!

There are things that I was not prepared for about this pregnancy.  Counting weeks and days is one of them, but there are more.  Things like people touching my belly shocked me! This happened the first time when I was about 8 weeks pregnant.  A few people knew I was pregnant because of my immense sickness and my inability to fulfill obligations however I was not even close to showing and yet someone touched my belly and it caught me totally off guard.  

There are sounds and smells coming from my body that I couldn’t even imagine.  I am overheated and exhausted.  I have a lot of friends who have been pregnant and all I can say is, “Thanks for keeping such things a secret ladies.”

One thing I felt totally prepared for was the crazy pregnancy food cravings.  But I haven’t really had many.  For a few months I have been eating a ton of strawberries and lots of beans and rape (which could explain the sounds and smells coming from my body) but other than that I’ve been pretty much turned off by food in general.  Until last week (which may or may not have been the 23rd week, haha) when I had a couple of days in which I really wanted to eat ice cream—probably because I was sweating like a pig. 

But what I didn’t realize would happen is that my husband would start craving things.  A few weeks ago we were sitting together chatting and out of nowhere he says, “I would REALLY like some chocolate!”   I looked at him like a weirdo. 

Then a few days later I woke up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night (as usual) and he wasn’t there.  I went downstairs and startled him.  He acted like he was caught in some treacherous act… when in fact he was standing in his underwear eating ice cream from the container!  I was laughing so hard it was a miracle that I didn’t wee my pants!  A few days ago I woke up to go to the bathroom at around 2 am (are you catching on to my routine) and he again wasn’t in bed.  Once again I found him in the kitchen eating ice cream.  
I would prefer a pic of Nyasha eating ice cream in the middle of the night... but you know how he freaks about me over sharing....and a pic of him in his underwear might get me in trouble :-)

I am not sure why this is so funny to me, but it is.  So welcome to a glimpse at my real life.  I am a pregnant woman who can’t figure out how far along she is with a husband who sneaks ice cream in the middle of the night!  This child has no idea what he or she is getting in to! 

With Love From Zimbabwe,


Friday, October 10, 2014

Confessions of an imperfect missionary: I live with depression.

At 19 years old I intentionally overdosed and cut my wrists.  I was not confused, I wanted to die.

I didn't die.

What came next was excruciating.  Hospitals and physically healing, but by far, the hardest part of my healing was emotional.  Psychiatric appointments, therapy, rehab, constantly adjusting medications until the right combo could be found for me.... And oh the side effects of those medications.  The dry mouth, the funky metal taste in my mouth, the nausea, the fatigue.  Some of them I have forgotten and some of the side effects make my body tense just thinking about them.  Eventually, the doctors were happy with my prescription and dosage and I was responding well and adjusted to the side effects and life went on.

Some people would say that the medication was a crutch, that it made me weak or that it was a cop out.  There are cruel people, especially in this age of the internet where we can sit behind our screens and toss judgment around cloaked in anonymity,  I will tell you that the medication didn't make me made it possible for me approach the story of my life from a position of real vulnerability so that I could face that story and walk away victorious: with healing.  I spent years, all of my twenties and now the first half of my thirties, doing Some REALLY hard work for that healing.  I have earned it.  Some of those years required medication to make that possible, and many of them have not.  I am grateful for the science that has contributed to leveling out my brain chemistry so that I could do the work required for healing and I am grateful to God who brought people into my life to help facilitate the healing of my most deep pain and brokenness.

Today is World Mental Health Day.  The goal, I think, is to bring awareness to the fact that people suffer mentally and emotionally... And that these people look like me and you.  These people, my people, do not need more advice-- they need compassion and understanding.  They do not need non-doctors passing out advice about prescriptions nor do they need any more shame.  For at the heart of depression and most mental health issues is deeply rooted shame.

I was 19 when I tried to kill myself.  But the time I graduated university at 22, I was completely off of my medication. I had done intensive work with a fabulous therapist as well as the wonderful people I met through Alcoholics Anonymous.  I felt good about where I was mentally and emotionally.  Then came a big break up, a huge move and the beginning of graduate school stress and madness.  In the midst of my second semester in my MSW program I was flying off the rails.  I knew I had lost my momentum and I was feeling broken and lost.  I sought counseling again and I faced the difficult decision of going back on medication.  The day the therapist recommended medication felt like such a setback.  I felt like a failure.  I was drowning in shame.  Why couldn't I handle my life on life's terms?  A wonderful Christian woman sat with me after an AA meeting while I wept and she gave me beautifully freeing advice, "If you had cancer would taking the treatment feel like failure to you?"  I said no, but depression and cancer are different.  Then she said, "If I stop my cancer treatments I will surely die... Maybe quickly or maybe slowly but it will happen.  If you try to fight this on your own, without treatment, we already know the outcome.  You were 19 the first time this disease almost took you out."

I went back on medication for about 6 months and again found myself in a routine that worked well for me.  When I weaned off the medication at the age of 23, I have never needed it again.  Not because my depression is magically or miraculously gone, there are seasons where I feel its dark grip and I feel afraid.  But, I have been able to catch it early.  I am vulnerable and accountable to people in my life that help me and through diet and exercise and a healthy routine, I have been able to handle my depression without medication.

I have prayed and prayed for my physical and emotional scars to be removed.  I have prayed to be free from depression and what I have learned is that healing comes in many different forms.  Sometimes it is instant and miraculous, sometimes it comes at the hands of medical professionals who are gifted by God to accomplish miraculous feats and sometimes it comes in death, when our souls find peace in a perfect eternity.  My healing has come as a journey.  I have learned to admit honestly what is going on in my world, I have learned to ask for help and I am learning not to be afraid of what form that help comes in.  My faith is in God and He gives me hope.

Today we acknowledge that people in our home, our family and our community need help.  We acknowledge that we might not always know how to provide that help, but we can most certainly offer compassion and a safe place for people like me to be my real self.  The church can and should be a such a place.  My prayer is that every person who seeks a listening ear in the church finds someone as wise, understanding and hospitable as the Christian woman I met in a dingy basement AA meeting! 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

He said/She said: Happy FIRST Anniversary

This was the most special day!
This week Nyasha and I celebrate the fact that we made it through the entire first year of marriage!  I hope you guys got a kick out of our different versions of our pre-wedding journey, here is our different versions of this past year!

She Said:

This year has gone by SO quickly.  I can’t believe that it has already been a year!  Being married to Nyasha is the greatest thing.  Honestly.  Everything I knew to be true about him before we were married has been even truer this year.  He is kind, gracious, generous, steady and so handsome!  And he loves me.  I don’t know when I will stop reminding myself of that, but it seems like every day I get a little bit more understanding of what that means.

This year has not been easy.  Anyone who has been married will tell you that learning to live together and be married is challenging.  It has been for us.  We have BOTH transitioned our work, we have moved TWICE, we are 23 weeks pregnant.  That’s a lot of change!  Throughout it all we have been assured of two things, that: #1 God is for us and #2 We are on the same team.

The way our wedding happened was such evidence to us that God is for us.  It was an absolute miraculous team effort that made us feel so loved and so special.  We talk about that Tuesday night so often and we love to pray for each person that showered us in love with that amazing surprise wedding!

A few years ago I sat with Bonnie and Dale, dear friends of mine, and asked them what advice they had about marriage.  One of the things they said was, “Remember that you are on the same team.  He is not your enemy no matter how tough things seem.”

I loved that and it has stuck with me.  This year we have been blessed to be a part of leading a few groups that require us to be VERY vulnerable. Our histories, marriage and parenting approaches have been laid open with these groups of people and we have learned so much.  We have laughed and cried and learned so much about each other working together in this way and it has been really healing.  We have become partners in so much: our marriage, our family, our ministry.  He makes me stronger, he helps me to be brave and he is not afraid to tell me when I get it wrong—but he does it in a way that makes me feel so protected. 

I guess all I can say about this year is that I love him more than ever.  I am grateful for everything we have been through together and I am excited for the future.  This man is truly my friend, my husband, my lover. He knows me: the good, the bad and the worse and he LOVES me.  What more can a girl ask for?  I get to be completely me and he loves me. The greatest love story will always be the story of Jesus and the church, marriage is meant to reflect that story--in a more flawed and human way.  That is not an easy thing to live out, but here we go- heading into year number two! 

PS.  He walks around the house singing “All of Me” by John Legend all the time.  That is our song and I have to say that it sums up how he loves me so perfectly.

PPS.  I love the little smirk he gets on his face when he talks about the baby.  Not much gets Nyasha excited and I can’t wait to see him hold this little baby! 
I still feel like this EVERYDAY!  And... this is the SAME smirk he gets when he talks about the baby!!! 
Oh that KISS!!!!!
He Said:

The first year has been an exciting journey and like most things in life it's happened so fast. It is hard to believe it has been a year. I thank God for everyday as we celebrate this milestone in our lives.

I'm not much of a writer, but my wife is big on informing others about what God has been doing for and with us.  God has been so good and it's such a testimony to wake up everyday realizing we truly do not live for ourselves. I think marriage reflects this to the fullest. I know we are only 12 months into it, but like breathing I feel it becomes part of your existence once you begin. You breathe throughout life without really putting too much thought to it unless you experience moments that threaten that ability and then you realize how important it is. I am learning to go beyond just doing marriage but becoming a husband.

Oh his handsomeness is too much!!
Regina and I have had our challenges in this first year--like any two people trying to co exist. It's crazy how every challenge brings us closer once it's resolved and keeps us disconnected if it's not brought in the open. I suppose the same is true with God and each of  us.  Our issues have to be resolved with love for there to be true peace.

If you know my wife, she is a fighter -for what she believes in and for those who can't defend themselves. Most of our year has taken this approach to life, it has become part of my existence too, fighting FOR those who need us.  We are finding out how we are meant to direct our energies together.  We have moved house and live in a smaller place than we did before.  I don't love the place, but Regina does and she tells me it makes her feel loved to be living here. We are also about to have a baby.  The first fruits of our marriage.  We have decided not to find out the sex of the baby, mainly because I am old fashioned (Regina has been trying to sneak a peak at every appointment, of course!) I like the old way of finding out because I believe in the double package--meeting the baby and knowing his sex at the same time.  We can't wait to meet this little baby, I know it will be a beautiful child.

I thank all who have supported us in this early part of our journey. Support is a crucial part of growth. We are learning so much from each of you and are grateful for your input in our lives.

We all start to count with the number one and I pray the numbers will keep adding up in the years we are married, until we are set apart. I pray that as the numbers increase each year we also grow in love, favor, grace and peace.

This is our prayer, that as a family we will always try our best to serve God.