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On Losing My Virtual Footprint and Physical Ticket

Thirty years ago, the technology that turned my digital world upside down yesterday was unimaginable. I was locked out of my Google account because I foolishly left my Google voice number as a two-factor authentication - so when I was logged out of all devices unexpectedly, I couldn’t receive text messages to prove my identity.  The thought of trying to describe this situation to someone in the 90’s is comical. What is Google? Two-factor authentication? A digital world? Similarly, I can’t imagine explaining that despite having a ticket, I couldn’t board a plane that had a seat for me because a computer wouldn’t print my boarding pass. In pursuing security and efficiency, have we lost common sense?  Technology has changed the world so quickly that I am old enough to remember a time when manual workarounds were commonplace and young enough to expect a lot more change will come in my lifetime. I spent much of yesterday trying every possible means of recovering ten years of emails, contact
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Syncretism and the Kingdom of God

Per google, syncretism may be defined as "the amalgamation or attempted amalgamation of different religions, cultures, or schools of thought." What would American Christian syncretism look like? What about Khmer syncretism? Cameroonian syncretism? Syncretism is easier to identify when you aren't involved in it. It also is explicit when the mixture is a pagan religion and Christianity. It is more subtle when culture or politics become the lens by which we understand morality and truth, and the lens by which we interpret the Bible. And it is more subtle still when we give ourselves ultimate moral authority and interpret scripture based on our own personal biases and preferences. The Bible is the ultimate source of truth. If anything supercedes the Bible, we must pause. And such pausing is healthy, because we all place things above the Bible. Whether we are American, Cambodian, Cameroonian, Indian, Korean, or Chinese, we are ethnocentric, and the way we view the wor

If You Give a Perfectionist a Choice (and Other Reflections on Parenting)

  Ethan took the three older kids to a tiny-pandemic-birthday-party-in-a-big-space this afternoon. This is the first time the kids have left our apartment complex since mid-February, aside from visiting their brother in the hospital and attending a required interview at the Embassy. They were pumped. Like composing a tune and rocking out on the futon and/or sitting near the door with socks and bugspray on ready to go (personality-dependent division). The relative silence of the past hour turned me into Superwoman. I’m listening to classical music while eating baked oatmeal and writing a blog I had time to think about during my uninterrupted workout. Our baby is sleeping in front of our industrial-sized fan. The 90 degree-heat and unmentionable humidity can’t hold me back. I remember watching mothers of more than one child in utter amazement as a first-time mom just eight years ago. Did they have extra arms? Extra hours in their days? How did they do it? In the hospital last month

The Summer of Our Discontent

Lust isn’t always about bodies. Lust is about our eyes — where we set our gaze. We covet what we allow ourselves to linger on, especially in regards to others’ possessions and experiences.  Any scroll through social media can bring up those desires: good books on a soft carpet in front of a warm fire. Wide open roads in a spacious vehicle and trips to beautiful vistas. Kids frolicking in the snow. Feet in the ocean.  Summer is my least favorite season, and it is always Summer here. Aside from the oppressive heat, Summer stretches on in an unchanging monotony of yellow and green and brown. No real temperature fluctuations. Little to no wind. Plenty of bugs with no winter to kill them. Not much  scope for the imagination nor hint of change on the horizon.  The antidote for lust is to flee. Close our eyes. Turn away. Set our gaze on something else, something more likely to remind us of how much we have already been given.  Employing the “snooze” on friends’ feeds is a powerful way of turn

Expectations: On Eight-Pound Babies and a Definite Lack of Chicken Finger Subs in Asia

Before we left the US, I bought some necessary and splurge items at Wegmans (arguably the best grocery store in the world) with the remainder of a gift card from some very generous friends. Looking at what I was able to track down within ten minutes blew my mind; in Phnom Penh, finding a single item often means trips to at least three different stores. Life is different here. Perhaps because things I want are so much harder to get, I find myself more appreciative of what I have. It also means I don't bother trying to find some of the things I would impulse purchase in the U.S., especially during pregnancy (do I really  want a chicken finger sub badly enough to spend an hour in traffic to make some sub-par version of it?).  Let me tell you about being a Western pregnant woman in an Asian city. In my first three pregnancies, I gained about 40 pounds each time (slightly more than the recommended ideal). But I worked out daily throughout and after pregnancy, and was able to reach my pr

Making a List and Checking it Twice (Choose Joy)

  Some of the best advice I heard about moving is to focus on what is good about where you are. This is solid counsel, and applicable to both temporal and geographic contentment. The pandemic provides endless opportunities for discontent, particularly comparison to how things used to be. But perspective is powerful.   I could think about snow, which reminds me that Summer is by far my least favorite season (especially in pregnancy), we don’t have a yard/lawn/parks, and the kids have been stuck inside for months (and now can’t go three minutes without fighting). We can’t bake Christmas cookies because we made the difficult but correct decision not to have an oven in our 90 degree kitchen. Our kids miss soccer, gym class, running, and having friends. And if my thoughts go in that direction, my jaw tenses up and frustration mounts.  Or I could think about how we have everything we need and so many things we want. A huge fan blowing. Christmas music streaming on internet better than we oft

Giving through Christian Health Service Corps

We are now Christian Health Service Corps missionaries. We’ve had people ask about the best ways to support us, which we will list below. Thank you for considering joining us on this mission!  If you have any questions we would love to hear from you. By Check Make payable to:              Christian Health Service Corps or CHSC Memo line:                             Project Number #176/Helm Mail to:                       Christian Health Service Corps PO Box 132 Fruitvale, TX 75127   Via Bill Pay Set up an automatic Bill Pay instruction through your bank/financial institution with donations mailed to the address above, giving your “ Project Number 176/Helm ” as the account number.   Via CHSC’s Website – for credit card donations Donate online at: _ https://www.healthservicecorps.org/author/helm/ (Please note when donating online that the Recurring Frequency default is monthly .   Use the drop down box to choose your preference.    Also, when donating online,