Monday, February 27

Another Year, Another Card

One of the ways we keep in touch with friends, family and supporters is sending out our MAF prayer cards. With little people in the family the photos can become out of date very quickly as you can see below. In the first one Abigail was only 5 months old and in the second Naomi was still in my tummy!

I know that people have found having our MAF cards useful. Many have them on their fridges, mantelpieces, in their offices or Bibles as a reminder to pray for us or remember the work we, MAF and MMS are doing. It is a great encouragement to us too ... more than I can express in words here .

As I mentioned in my Admin Mummy post ... the support raising part of being a missionary family is down to me because I enjoy it so much, while Mark's forte is fixing the planes! I'm thankful that we're agreed on this and can get on with our own areas of expertise!

This year is a particularly big year for us. Mark has just done and will do another Rapid Response trip. In the summer, Mark will also have completed all his necessary hours as an apprentice and will be taking his Airframe and Powerplant exams (of which there are a lot!). This means our time here in Ohio will come to an end and we will be placed in an MAF programme, most likely in Uganda or Tanzania, where I used to teach. So by this time next year we will have moved across continents again, said lots of goodbyes and hellos and be settling the family into a whole new culture.

We figured with all that is going on we would like our supporters to keep us in the forefront of their minds over the next 12 months. We wanted an up-to-date card (including Naomi!) for people to remember us with and as we won't get another new MAF card until we're in a programme I decided to make our own!  

We budget for keeping in touch with supporters each month, postage, cards etc but I'm always looking for a bargain. For example, we never pay for our return address stickers, we always use an offer on Vistaprint and just pay postage which is only a few £/$'s. So I played around with photos on Snapfish yesterday and as I went to 'checkout' I thought I'd quickly see if there were any coupon codes or offers for that website as it was quite a big order. 

I was really excited to find a 25% off code on the Snapfish website ... which was extremely short lived as it didn't work. I've never used the 'online chat' help on any website but I thought I'd give it a go and can't recommend it highly enough! Not only did the customer support advisor help very quickly and clearly, they found me a 50% off code instead. No complaints from me ... we saved over $100!

The order is in and for a lot less money than I'd thought, which is great as postage is $1 a letter from America, so we've got a bit more saved towards that now! For those of you who regularly receive our news keep an eye out in your snail mail for one of our 'unofficial' cards over the next month or so. For those of you who don't ... let me know if you'd like one to remember us with!

Saturday, February 25

Baby Showers

Baby Showers are BIG business out here in the States. While in recent years they are becoming more popular in the UK, here in America they take it to a-whole-nother level! 

I've been to quite a few since we've lived here from a handful of friends to a full-on event with over a hundred people. One thing they have all had in common is that they are planned to the finest detail, whether it be in the decorations, the games or the food. The gift registry aspect has been a whole different kettle of fish too ... it's treated like a wedding gift list. It really has been quite the eye opener!

When I was expecting Abigail I didn't have any kind of baby shower. We hadn't been living where we were for too long and were a couple of hours away from friends and family. Having said that we had a good group of friends cook us meals for a week or two and every day for the first month of her life, Abigail received all kinds of goodies in the post. So we were just 'showered' in a different way!

Last spring when Naomi was a couple of months old, some good friends here threw us a post-birth baby shower. It was really nice to do it that way round ... so that Naomi could be part of the celebrations too! The detail in the planning was amazing and we felt totally loved. My love of books was totally incorporated ... as it was a Literary Baby Shower' ... both in the decorations, the games and if you look closely below even in the food!

My lovely friends also shared 'mummy' poems and stories, some they had found and some they had written. I will leave you with one of those we heard that evening ...

Dear Lord, it's such a hectic day
With little time to stop and pray
For life's been anything but calm
Since you called on me to be a mum

Running errands, matching socks
Building dreams with building blocks
Cooking, cleaning and finding shoes
And other stuff that children lose

Fitting lids on bottled bugs
Wiping tears and giving hugs
A stack of last weeks mail to read
So where's the quiet time I need?

Yet when I steal a minute Lord
Just at the sink or ironing board
To ask the blessings of your grace
I see then, in my small one's face
That you have blessed me all the while
And I stop to kiss that precious smile

Wednesday, February 22

Blogging about Blogging

Wow! I can't believe that I started this blog 6 months ago and I'm still going! Sometimes what seems like a good idea at the time for me doesn't always come to much a bit further down the line but this is something I'm still really enjoying!

As a mummy, some days can be children, children, children! Using my brain gets put on the sidelines, so I'm loving the opportunity to get to use mine even on the days when I don't get much adult conversation. I'm also loving having something that is ALL mine too ... as not very much is when there are little people around! One added bonus I can see too, is that looking back on this in years to come, it will help us remember more the details of our adventures together as a family, almost more than the more general posts in our family blog, Beckwith's Big Adventure!

When I started 'The Missionary Mum', even though we do our other blog, I wasn't really aware of the huge blogging world or 'blogosphere' out there. (Yes, terms like that made me laugh too!). Since starting this one however, I've got to know people all over the world who have similar or totally different types of blogs to me. Admittedly I'd like to have a bit more time to check out some of the blogs I've seen that interest me but for now they have been bookmarked til I have five minutes to myself!

My intention was never to earn money from blogging like some people or even to generate a huge following (I haven't even activated the 'Following' option). But more recently I've had approximately 50 views each day which has been a nice little boost to my self esteem. Thank you to those of you who are interested enough to read on!

I still think I'm very much in the early stages of the blog and am learning and tweaking things on a regular basis ... who knows this time next year the blog could look totally different! I'm even enjoying the 'study' element and learning process as much as the writing!!

The latest blogging book I have to read (but which I haven't started yet) and is sure to give me some new ideas to try is 'The IT Girls Guide to Blogging with Moxie' by Joelle Reeder and Katherine Scoleri from Moxie Design Studios. As with everything else I'm looking forward to getting into the book ... when the munchkins allow!

I think this blog won't be a five minute wonder brainchild of mine ... it seems that some ideas I have to do things will actually last the distance!! Let me know what you like or don't like about 'The Missionary Mum' so I can improve it over the months and years to come!

Tuesday, February 21

In the Blink of an Eye

This weekend I've been sorting through little girls clothes ... again! It seems that no sooner one of them fits a new size the other is growing out of their old one and I find myself shuffling round the piles of clothes, into and out of boxes once more.

At birth they were both in the 90+ percentiles height wise. In fact, at Abigail's 6 week check, the midwife measured her and then looked at me quizzically asking 'Is her Father tall?'. I laughed knowingly and said 'Yes' to which she let out a great sigh of relief and replied 'Oh! That's alright then!' Thanks to their daddy both girls are at least a step ahead of the game size-wise, so I'm never quite sure where we are!

Luckily for us we've had two little girls and kept almost everything that Abigail had, knowing that second time round as missionaries, our budget was going to be a lot tighter. As Abigail wasn't too messy, Naomi had a ready-made wardrobe waiting for her and we've only have to tweak it with a few little bits here and there.

The photo below was taken on the front porch of our house, just before we moved in on October 1st 2009 ... with a very little Abigail who had only just turned one, a couple of weeks earlier.

Naomi was wearing exactly the same outfit today! She is not quite 10 months old and the trousers are already looking a little short. I definitely think that in the height department, she will catch up with her sister and possibly over take her as they grow up!

Putting out all Abigail's old clothes or should I say Naomi's 'new' ones on the shelves brought back so many memories. Not only of all the goofy faces and things Abigail got up to when wearing them but also all that we as a family were experiencing too. We had just left the UK, not due to return permanently for at least another 11 years and were having fun experiencing all the new weird and wonderful things that small town America had to offer.

It's strange to think that so much has happened since then, we are very settled into our lives and the community here. As Naomi grows out of these same clothes we will have come to the end of our time in Ohio and once again be beginning to pack our bags for the next adventure. Where has the time gone?

Saturday, February 18

Sandwich Fillers

It seems that there are some universal favourite foods within cultures that if you haven't been brought up with them ... you completely don't understand!! Marmite would have to be one of the most obvious Brit examples!

In the UK there is a definite Marmite divide. You either 'Love it or Hate it' ... their infamous slogan! I definitely know more in the first category and many of my friends who have moved overseas have made Marmite a priority when packing their bags and boxes ... ensuring a never ending supply! 

I do have friends who got married a couple of years ago where she LOVES it and he HATES it!! Awkward! I believe there is a certain kissing rule in their household now ... he will only kiss her after an agreed amount of time has passed after she eats something which includes Marmite. Too funny!

For those of you wondering 'What on earth is this stuff?' (which was the reaction of many of my friends here in small town Ohio) ... it's a yeast extract spread with lots of flavour! People who aren't familiar with it often spread it like chocolate spread ... way too much, even for a Marmite lover like me! While we were at All Nations we loved watching all the International students reactions to it ... the faces that were pulled after their first bites were often hilarious!

Our household is one with a constant supply of Marmite, as so far, we all love it. Naomi has yet to take that first bite but it won't be long. Abigail loves it so much that given the choice she would have it in her sandwich every day! In fact, if you ask her what she would like for lunch her response is always, cheese, ham and marmite! We love it in sandwiches or on toast ... there's even a Marmite recipe book which we own but haven't any recipes from yet!

It got me thinking as to what the equivalent favourite sandwich filler would be here in the States, especially for the little ones. I came to the conclusion that it was PBJ ... which written like that would have totally baffled me before we moved to the States in 2009! Peanut Butter and Jelly (for the English translation ... that last bit is Jam!). Many of the mum's I know here would say this was a regular favourite of their children.

This combination sounds totally inedible to me and certainly not normal! However I will concede that  having tried many new foods so far during my travels and been pleasantly surprised on a regular basis I will hold judgement until I've actually tried this 'local delicacy'! I'm sure if our friends here tried Marmite they would have a similar reaction too!

For now we will stick with what we know and make sure the supplies are kept healthy for the rest of our time in the States ... and then start a new stock pile when we move on from here!

Thursday, February 16

International Valentines Chocolate

Over the last 15 years since living and travelling all over the place I have been discovering that many things are interpreted differently from country to country. Chocolate being one of them!

Last summer as a family we sampled the local offering here in Ohio, seeing what would Pass the Taste Test of our English palates. Just before Christmas we turned the tables and invited some American friends to see what they made of some Brit Chocolate that we brought back with us after a trip home.

Mark's recent travels brought him home just two day's before Valentines day. While he was away he sent me a dozen hand-dipped chocolate covered strawberries ... the biggest most delicious strawberries you've ever tasted. When he came back he also bought some hilariously named yet delicious yumminess from his travels for a Valentines treat! 'Lover' chocolate wafers from Papua New Guinea and 'Meltykiss' from Japan. Too funny!

Valentines is celebrated very differently in the States from how we're used to celebrating in England. We're used to sending a card and possibly chocolates, flowers, jewellery, cute cuddly toys to your one loved one. Here in the States there are Valentines for every member of your family and basically every friend you've ever met, if you go all out. There are baking tins, tablecloths and settings, toys, balloons, boxes of cards (Toy Story, Hello Kitty etc) for kids to give all their friends just like boxes of Christmas cards ... the list goes on.

In our family we don't do too much, there isn't always even a card. Maybe I'd go out for dinner on some date around February 14th with my husband, maybe not. We do wish each other a Happy Valentines and tell the other how much we love them ... but we do the latter most days anyway. I just love observing how each culture tweaks the same celebrations/holidays and puts their own unique twist on it.

Tuesday, February 14

Home Sweet Home

Hooray! My hubby and best friend came home safe and sound yesterday after almost three and a half weeks away on Rapid Response in PNG. As I wrote in December in 'My Gentle Giant', me and Mark haven't spent more than a few days apart since we first met in September 2005, so this was HUGE for us.

Although we've had lots of fun at home, especially as my sister has been here from England to enjoy some girlie time, I was so excited to have Mark back. I didn't show it by jumping up and down quite like Abigail though, when she realised that the last link in her paper chain had gone and Daddy was coming home!

I didn't realise that I hadn't relaxed properly the whole time Mark was away until he got back and I let out a deep breath and let the tension all out, knowing that he was back home safely! It felt like both of us had 'come home' when we were reunited, not just Mark and that wherever we are, together, that's where home is. (Yes, yes, total cheese!)

When I was younger I was quite a home body and didn't choose to spend much time away from home. It even affected my choice of degree course as although I would have loved to have studied a language I didn't want to live in another country where they speak a different language and have a different culture. Now God is proving to have a very big sense of humour as that's all I want to do!

Since then I've lived and travelled all over the place, within many different cultures and haven't felt in the least bit home sick, enjoying all the new experiences. In fact the only time I've truly felt like I was away from home has been these last few weeks when Mark wasn't here ... because I was away from him!

I'm enjoying listening to all his experiences although find it weird to think that for the first time since we met we haven't had the chance to share them. I'm really proud of all he was able to do and that he has the expertise to help ... but even more I'm so glad he's back home where he belongs!

Saturday, February 11

Oatie Slice Thingy

I'm part of a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) Group here in Coshocton which is good fun (MOPS in a Nutshell). Today was our monthly meeting and it was our groups turn to provide the yummy's ... there's always something yummy to eat! 

Yesterday I spent some time baking goodies with my little chef. She loves any excuse to help out in the kitchen ... so at Christmas she got this little outfit for when she's cooking in her play kitchen!

We made a double batch of flapjack for the MOPS meeting ... flapjack in the English sense of the word! It seems like flapjack refers to two different things depending on which side of the pond you live on, like so many other things! Pancakes in America and an oatie slice thingy for the English ... that was the best way I could think of to describe it to a friend here earlier on this week!

We used the same recipe I used to use with my mum when I was little. So I guess you could say it's becoming a bit of a family tradition now. It's really quick and easy and incredibly yummy. In fact, so many people commented and asked me for the recipe this morning, that I thought it would be easier to blog it here and just write it out once!
  • 1Tbsp golden syrup
  • 3oz sugar
  • 3oz marge/butter
  • 6oz rolled oats
  • pinch salt
  1. Melt marge/butter and syrup
  2. Mix in other ingredients
  3. Put in greased or lined tin
  4. Cook for 20-30 mins - GM3/325/160 (til lightly browned)
  5. Cool slightly before cutting into slices ... don't let it completely cool as it can be harder to slice then!
This is yummy thick or thin ... so you would need to decide how you like it and choose what size of tin you want to use! Sometimes we just make the basic recipe and sometimes we add something extra ... dried cranberries and apricots, chocolate chips or raisins ... about 1/4-1/2 cup ... or once cooked and cooled, melt some chocolate and pour over the top and leave to set in the fridge for an indulgent topping. It all works!!

An addition : For my US friends ... you used to be able to get Golden Syrup at Buehler's in town, until they discontinued it. Now I have to get it from Amazon! Believe me though, it's definitely worth the effort! Here's a link to the most cost effective way to get it (as I write that is!) Lyle's Golden Syrup.

Thursday, February 9


While we've been here at MMS Aviation a group started up for the Apprentice Wives, of which I am one. It is led by a couple of the staff wives and the vision was that it would help prepare those of us whose husbands are training, for what our future ministries might bring as well.

It started at the beginning of 2010 and at the time there were two leaders and I was one of only two apprentice wives here. The vision was clear for the group but how that worked itself out practically was yet to be seen. Now there are three leaders (one of the originals and two others) and six wives, three of whom have come through MAF UK just like us! The photo below was taken last summer at one of our meetings with a selection of us who were there that night.

We meet all together twice a month. Sometimes we listen to speakers usually with experience on the mission field (all of the MMS staff wives have shared with us at some point). Sometimes we do a study and we're all getting the chance to lead and host a session at some point too.

It is a unique group amongst missions and it can be helpful to get together as although we're all coming and going (the joys of transition!) and at various stages in our time at MMS we all have different experiences and backgrounds to share and can learn loads from each other. The group itself will continue to evolve as the members change too which is quite an exciting prospect!

This week was a little different, we talked about 'Blessings' ... which we can be to each other in the group as our friendships grow. We looked at several celtic blessings and talked about the different styles and how diverse they can be and then had a chance to write our own. It was helpful to think about who we were writing for to focus a little bit, so I chose to write one for my girlies.

May the God of wisdom, guide and direct you.
The God of peace, comfort and calm you.
The God of love, encourage and nurture you.
The God of today, walk with you now ... and into your tomorrows.

The apprentice wife who led the session also wrote a blessing for us as a group which I totally loved and will leave you with.

May God who brought us together
Send us out by his spirit.
May we walk in the sound of his voice,
Even when we are far apart.
May we enjoy Godly laughter
Wherever we go;
And may Jesus who walked this earth before us
Enjoy the joke with us,
For He created laughter
To be good for our bones.

Tuesday, February 7


While Mark has been away on 'Rapid Response' my sister, Pippa, has travelled out from England and has been helping with the practical side of having two little munchkins in the house and only one pair of hands ... and keeping me company. A definite lifesaver as I think I may have gone a little crazy left to my own devices for the whole time Mark was away!

Towards the end of last year Pippa got two gorgeous little Cavalier King Charles Spaniels which she is missing loads while she is here. They are very good but still very much in the training stage much like little children! After the first week here and feeling quite shattered with the girlies, Pippa made a comment that I won't forget in a hurry ... and I quote 'Whoever said having puppies was just like having children was totally wrong'!!

I guess until you have kids and the 24/7 responsibility hits you with NO breaks, you don't really appreciate the implications. I know until I had Abigail I certainly didn't!! As tough as it can be sometimes I wouldn't change being a mum for anything ... but Pippa is certainly not in any hurry to have kids of her own after a few weeks here with us either!

Ordinarily I only have a second pair of hands at the weekend, so I've been thoroughly spoiled while Mark is away and I know I will miss her loads when she goes back to the UK ... there is still over a week to go through! Hooray! She has learnt our little routines and is now often a step ahead of the game ... invaluable!

A couple of weeks ago Abigail was giving Naomi a big cuddle and saying 'I love my Naomi, she's my best friend'. That made me totally melt with pride ... my hope and prayer is that in the years to come she will still be able to say the same! And maybe one day Abigail will be able to go and help Naomi out, just like Pippa has done for me!

Saturday, February 4

What's in a name?

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet." 

In some ways naming my girlies felt like even more of a responsibility than having and looking after them. Seriously! The names we give our children can define who they are for the rest of their lives. During both my pregnancies, it felt like one of the biggest decisions my husband and I had to make.

As we didn't know if we were having a girl or a boy with either pregnancy we had the added responsibility of finding two names each time. We decided to make each decision a secret until we announced the birth's of our girls. Everyone has an opinion and association with certain names and as both my mum and Mark's sister are teachers, with an even bigger source of association, we thought it was better if we chose the names without any input from anyone but each other.

When we were at All Nations we made some really good Korean friends. All their names were really unusual, after all they were Korean, but the meanings were beautiful. It made me want to ensure that not only were my children's names beautiful but that the meanings were too. No pressure on myself then!

Looking through the baby name books some of the first names I checked out were mine and Mark's. Mark means warlike and Jennifer means white ghost or white wave. There were then a million others to choose from that we had to narrow down to our favourites for the future little Beckwith babies!

First time round we chose Abigail Eve, Abigail meaning father rejoices and Eve meaning life. Second time round we chose Naomi Grace, Naomi meaning delightful and Grace meaning blessing from God. We hope that as they grow up both girls will come to appreciate the names we have given them and their meanings, we spent a lot of time and consideration choosing them.

Since we lived in America we've noticed that choices of baby names can be very different. For example in the last 12 months friends who have had baby boys have chosen names like Easton, Cooper, Jackson, Colton which until now I would have associated with surnames ... the girls names have been more familiar. It is obviously a cultural thing, as with many other differences we have found since living in the States. Just another thing that enhances the experience of living here for a few years!

Thursday, February 2

Really? ... a Soup?!

Certain things are done a little differently out here in the States. 

Imagine when we first arrived here looking through a menu in a restaurant and not finding any main courses. No, I wasn't in a speciality place ... it happens in every restaurant. On closer inspection and with greater understanding, I soon came to realise that even though the word 'Entree' is French and means beginning/starter and is used to describe the first course of meal in France and understood to mean that in England, the Americans use it to describe their 'Main Course' which is not what the word means at all!

The longer I have lived in the States with my family the more I have come to double check the meanings of words I think I understand because inevitably they often don't mean what I expect them to! Another food related difference we've found is Chilli. In the UK that word would conjure up variations of mince, kidney, beans, onions and a tomatoey sauce served on a bed of rice. Here it could be any kind of meat with all variations of ingredients often more like British stews, just with a bit of a kick to them. They are rarely served with rice, more often crackers or tortilla chips of some sort and are referred to as soups rather than a main course or 'entree'!!

I've mentioned my good friend Rachel before, she has left her family behind and visited us out here in the States ... and has just booked to do so again this year too. About 12 years ago or so, she was not the master chef and yummy mummy that she is today. In fact if I went round to her house for dinner I would stop by the supermarket on my way there and then cook for her. Nowadays things are totally different and I'm getting recipe advice from her ... you rock Rach!

One visit to her house she introduced me to the easiest and yummiest Chilli recipe ever ... Chilli in the British understanding anyway! I've even won round at least one American friend who told me that she doesn't like Chilli but loves mine! So whether we serve it with pasta, rice or tortilla chips and refer to is as a main course or a soup ... this is one recipe we love as a family!!

  • 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 450g/1lb minced beef
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 800g canned diced tomatoes
  • 400g canned red kidney beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1-3 tsp chilli powder
  • 2-3 handfuls of frozen peas & corn
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh coriander ('cilantro' in the USA) - optional
  1. Heat oil in large casserole
  2. Add beef, cook til lightly browned
  3. Add onion, pepper & garlic - 5 mins, til soft
  4. Stir in remaining ingredients (except coriander)
  5. Bring to the boil, then simmer, stirring occasionally for 30 mins
  6. Stir in coriander just before stirring
This freezes really well. I usually make a double batch now to save time on a busy evening in the future. Sometimes for the double I will use one tin of red kidney beans and one of black beans ... equally as yummy!