Welcome to the Scharrer family's real life story! Most of our story is written for, and about, our four kids and the spice they add to our lives. It's our story of happiness, craziness, and sometimes ridiculousness. We've journaled through childbirth, the terrible two's, private school (and our public school experience), an autism diagnosis, medical school, residency, and long-term mission work in Africa.

Now we're following a new adventure, which involves a 45 foot motorcoach, homeschool, and as many ski slopes as we can go down in one year.

For posts from while we were living in Zimbabwe and updates about our future plans in Zimbabwe, please see our mission blog...


23 February 2015

Getting Out of The Bubble, Living by Faith

On the way home from bringing the kids to school this morning, the christian radio station was all in an uproar about the recent terror threat on the Mall of America.  They were encouraging people to go about their daily lives like normal.  They read verses about walking by faith and declared that if Christians were to purposely avoid the Mall of America in fear, that they weren't living out their faith.  They announced that God calls us, not be people of fear and timidity, but a people of courage and faith.  They interviewed a mother who called in.  She had a 12 year old who was supposed to meet some friends at the Mall of America yesterday.  The 12 year old was afraid and asked her mother if they could change plans.  Her mother told the radio station that she used this as a teachable moment and that they walked on faith as they kept their plans, and enjoyed a wonderful faith-filled, fun day at the mall with their friends.
As I heard this lady speak, I thought she was crazy!  Let me tell you, there is no way I would step foot in the Mall of America anytime soon and I would never take my daughter to meet some friends any place that was under a terror threat!  The radio announcers kept talking.  They mentioned the "bubble" we tend to let ourselves live in and how most of us don't step out in great faith very often.  The more I listened to them talk, the more I thought these people were losing it!  I just couldn't understand anyone not avoiding the Mall of America right now!

Then it hit me.

God calls us all to do outrageous things for His kingdom.  Our faith journeys aren't all alike, either.  Sometimes, this requires us to step out of our "bubbles" and do something that we might not feel comfortable with.  Maida recently asked me about the devotional song, "Break My Heart," and why it is asking God to break our hearts.  I have never thought about it before.
Break my heart, dear Lord,
Tear the barriers down,
Show me with, convicting tears,
The glory of Your crown.

My heart is hard, my soul so weak
The ways of evil cut so deep
I need You, Lord to come inside
And gently break my heart.

My sin is great, but I can see,
The glory set for me.
Show me Father, where to start.
And gently break my heart.

There are so many things in life that can get in the way of living "out loud" for God's Kingdom.  Sometimes it's the busyness of our days.  Sometimes it's pure selfishness and choosing something that might look better.  And sometimes it's fear.  I think about our plans for Africa and how taking our four precious and most prized possessions to Africa, scares me.  Every time I take a hot shower, I think about how much I'm going to miss the feeling of getting in a hot shower (not to mention having heat, air conditioning, and simply having electricity).  I'm going to miss calling my parents every day or meeting up for family weekends with my nieces and nephews.  I'm going to miss the convenience of a grocery store.  I'm already feeling sad about all the birthdays and holidays we'll miss...  It would be so easy to get in a little bubble here in the states and never think about Africa again, but this is our faith journey and our walk toward following God's lead.  Even though I will be hesitant, sad, and nervous, I will arrive in Africa, content and confident with living God's will for our lives.  I will walk into the "terror threat" with faith and trust, just like the lady interviewed on the radio did with her daughter.  And do you know what's so happy about that?  It won't just be for my soul, but  for my children's souls, and for all the souls we'll be in contact with there and who we've already been praying for.

 We had a good friend die of cancer when he was very young, leaving the love of his life and four beautiful young children behind.  There is one thing that has always stuck out to me about his struggle and death.  As he journaled through his disease, he once wrote something along the lines of, "If one person is saved because of my journey of faith through this battle with cancer, I will willingly and gladly die for that soul."

On Pinterest this afternoon, I came across this quote, "No mess, no message."  Not only are we God's people, but we are God's tools.  Getting out of our bubbles, tearing the barriers down, having faith, and going through whatever "mess" it takes, to spread the message, is what we are called and encouraged to do.  Now as I ask and long for God to "break my heart" and "tear the barriers down," God's Word speaks to me now more than ever...

"In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith - of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire - may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed."  1 Peter 1:6-7"That is why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ.  For when I am weak, then I am strong."
2 Corinthians 12:10

"...I am not alone, because the Father is with Me.  These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace.  In the world you may have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world."
John 16:32-33

"Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance."
Romans 5:3

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?"
Romans 8:35

"And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again."
2 Corinthians 5:15

"We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.  We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God."
2 Corinthians 5:20

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your way submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight."
Proverbs 3:5-6

17 February 2015

Looking Back to One Year Ago: The Congo

After returning from the Congo, I measured time by how much of it had passed since we returned.  One month went by, two months, three months.... and pretty soon a whole year flew by.  
It hardly seems possible.

When our trip to the Congo all came about, I had no idea what to expect.  Samaritan's Purse worked with us through most of the details of the planning and preparing, which was very nice.  Before I knew it, our tickets were booked, our bags were packed, my parents showed up to take the kids, and we were off! To be completely honest, I went to Africa not ever considering a future in missions.  With four kids and our families being so close, I couldn't possibly take my kids over there long-term or leave my family for too long.   While in Africa, though, I had a strange, but vivid reoccurring dream.  I didn't think much about it at first, but the more I had it, the more I thought about it.  In the dream, Erik and I were walking into a building as an African man approached us.  He was very weak and said he was very sick.  He called to Erik, saying, "Doctor, doctor!  Help me.  Please help me."  Erik and I turned to look at him and then Erik pushed me gently inside and then shut the door behind us.  I grabbed Erik's arms and said, "Erik!  What are you doing?  We can not shut the door on these people.  They need us.  They need our help.  They need what we can give them."  And that was it.  The more I had the dream and the more I thought about it, the more I wondered.  What would happen to these people if the missionaries weren't here?  Where would they go?  Where would they get help?  Would they die?  Would they ever have the opportunity to hear of Jesus and His sacrifice?  Would they ever be saved?  As our weeks in Africa went on, my heart began to change.  I wasn't just there to accompany Erik on his medical service or to uplift the missionaries and help show God's love to others.  I was there to see first hand who these people were, what this country was, and to fall in love with all of what I saw.  There is no doubt in my mind that God knew that I needed this trip, to grow a love and passion for missions.

We've been home a year and there isn't a day that has gone by since our return that I haven't said, "Erik, let's go to Africa!"  I can't wait to see what God has in store for our family!

15 February 2015

Just another Target Mom-ent

"Me not get up."  Torsten yelled, sitting on the Target floor with his arms crossed angrily across his chest.  Torsten is at the age where he wants everything in the store.  And when I say no, he flops to the ground and refuses to get up.  Luckily I've been through this stage three other times in life and so it hardly phases me anymore.  However, peeling a toddler off the floor 50 times in one shopping trip makes for an exhausting day.
On Monday, we not only had to grocery shop, but we also had to pick up some medicine at the Target pharmacy.  While standing in line at the pharmacy, Torsten decided that he was completely done with this shopping trip.  He flopped to the ground, blocking anyone from getting to the pharmacy counter.  I maneuvered my full cart into a place where it was out of the way and quickly peeled Torsten off the floor.  I also gave him a little swat on the butt since that was the 51st time that day I peeled him off the floor.  This swat started an enormous screaming fit, which wasn't so bad, actually,  because it got us moved to the front of the line and our medicine expedited through the filling station.  I don't think anyone wanted to sit and listen to this inconsolable screaming any longer, however, the pharmacist excused it saying, "We can see that this sick little guy needs his medicine as soon as possible."  I didn't bother telling her that it was actually for his brother.  On the way to the store checkout, Torsten spotted a humidifier that looked like an elephant and all tears were gone.  Thankfully we approached the checkout happily and Torsten enjoyed helping me put the groceries up on the belt.
At this point, I was breathing deep sighs of relief.  We had made it through the store without breaking anything and we only had to frantically run to the bathroom one time.  I also actually had my Target card with me today and Torsten didn't take everything off the candy shelves and throw it in my cart while I was digging for it.  I thought all was well in the world until I heard, "Mom PEE!!!"
Torsten was nervously doing the potty dance and grabbing himself uncontrollably.  I looked at the remaining items on the belt and noticed that there were only a few left to be scanned.  I told Torsten to hold it a few more minutes, but before I could grab his arm, he took off running toward the bathroom saying, "I see potty mom, I go pee!" and he disappeared into the ladies restroom.
I frantically swiped my card, signed my name, grabbed the cart, and started for the bathroom.
"Excuse me miss, could you wait for a minute?  I accidentally pushed the 'cancel' button and I have to start over."
As I heard this, I paused for a minute, debating on what I was supposed to do.  There was an enormous line behind me (ugh, shopping at 1:00 in the afternoon always ensures that only two checkout lanes are open).  Before I had time to make a decision, I heard, "Me not get on the potty, Mom." and glanced over to see that Torsten had taken his clothes off in the bathroom and had streaked all the way through the front of the store to get to me.  AHHH!  With gasping women all around me, I quickly swooped him up and brought him back to the bathroom as fast as I could.  I picked a stall, set him on the pot, and encouraged him to pee quickly.  It was taking him a while, so I peeked my head out the door.  The cashier saw me and yelled,"M'am, I need you to come sign again, please."  With the glares from those behind me in line, I mentioned to Torsten that I'd be right back and that he could continue pushing it out.  As I opened the door to exit, a Target worker was coming in.  She was an Asian woman with a thick accent.  I could hardly understand what she was saying to me, but it was something like, "Someone reported a problem here.  Children can not run naked in our store."
DUH!  Seriously, what in the world?!  I smiled and said, "Thanks," because I had no idea what else to say and pushed passed her.  I ran to the check out counter, signed my name, and then started running back to Torsten when the cashier exclaimed, "Oh NO!  I accidentally pushed the cancel button again!  You will need to stay and sign after I ring this up again."  Was she joking?!  I glanced back at the line of people who were still glaring in my direction.  I just wanted to yell, "This is NOT my fault, you guys!  I'm not the one holding up this line!  In fact, just left my two-year-old pooping in the public bathroom alone so that you could all get on your merry way.  This ding-dong cashier keeps pushing the wrong buttons!"  But I would never actually say anything like that, besides, I didn't have time to open my mouth because my thoughts were interrupted with screaming and yelling from the bathroom. 
I quickly turned and started off toward the restroom, thinking my pooping child now sporting a toilet ring around his naked bottom was being kidnapped.
"M'am, sign one more time please."
Ohmygoodnes!  I stopped, signed, and said, "I'm done signing.  I'm done with this line.  I'll be in the bathroom if you need me."
On the way into the bathroom, a lady was exiting, with a very horrible look on her face.  With this look, she was armed and ready to staredown the horrible mother of that child freaking out in the bathroom.  My eyes met hers and I said pleasantly, "He's alright, I promise."
She stopped. And stared at me.  I pushed around her (she obviously is not a mom and/or has never had a mom-ent in Target) and finally got to Torsten.  He was clinging to the handicap railing on the side of the bathroom stall, almost hanging in midair.  The toilet was an automatic flushing toilet.  Since he's not big enough for any kind of sensors on this pot, the toilet was randomly flushing and he was scared to death that he was going to get flushed down.  I covered the sensors with my hand and Torsten finished up.
As we were walking out, I decided to reward myself with a coffee from the Startbucks, located right in Target, conveniently right beside the exit.  Torsten, of course, loves coffee and was very excited about this little treat!  I
got up to the counter as he ran over to our normal seat in front of the windows.  He sat down in his favorite chair and excitedly smiled at me as I turned my head to order.  I couldn't decide what I wanted, so I dilly-dallied a little more than five seconds and as I started to say, "Hi, I will take a tall white chocolate mocha, please," I heard, "HEY MOM, WATCH THIS!!!" and out of the corner of my eye I saw sparks flying as a *BANG* made everyone in the coffee shop scream.  I was honestly, scared to look, but of course, that was my baby sitting over there and holy cow, WHAT HAPPENED?
Starbucks workers were to the rescue immediately.  Torsten was still sitting in his favorite chair with that big smile still on his face, glancing in my direction.  Like most moms I can read my child's thoughts by their eyes (not their smiles) and I knew he was now feeling frightened and embarrassed.  I called him to me and we sat down at one of the little tables for two across the room.  An emergency code was called over the intercom and Target workers came running to see the lighted Starbucks sign that had been hanging in front of the windows from the ceiling, now resting on the windowsill.  I whispered to Torsten, "Did you touch that sign?"  and he nodded yes.  But I then overheard the guy who was sitting at the table next to Torsten tell the workers that he did not touch it.  No one will ever know what really happened (or maybe I just don't want to know what really happened...).
We got our hot coffee and some cold stares from the mom-ent-less woman that I had previously exchanged words with when she was coming out of the bathroom.  Unfortunately, a store emergency was called and they shut down the Starbucks, so she didn't get her drink.  I felt only a little bad.  Part of me thought it was kind of funny. Torsten and I took our time drinking our coffee.  Or maybe I was just scared to get up and walk out of the store, in fear something else would happen!  I told Torsten that it had been a hard day and a very rough Target trip.  He was just all smiles, drinking coffee and eating goldfish.  He had absolutely no idea what problems he had incidentally caused that day. 

Several hours later, the older kids were home from school and we were frantically trying to get homework and chores done before Skogen's soccer game.  I told the kids about my Target trip and also told them we needed to work really hard to make a good night because I had felt like my day had been cursed.  The kids were all grabbing snacks and Klaasen asked to try a bite of some frosting that had been in the fridge since Christmas.  I warned him that it'd probably give him a stomach ache, but that he could try one bite before I rinsed it down the sink.  Apparently, as I was dealing with three other post-school starving children, Klaasen somehow slipped the moldy frosting out from under my hand and snuck off to eat it quietly in secret.  Several minutes later, he returned with the frosting and admitted his wrongdoing.  Immediately, though, he fell to the ground with horrible stomach pains.  I told him that was what he got for eating moldy frosting.  He rolled around on the cold hard kitchen floor, holding his stomach, for at least 20 minutes. I bent down to him again and explained to him that he needed to listen to mom when I told him not to do something and that he was learning a hard lesson.  He then said, "Mom, this isn't from the frosting.  It's because I tried one of Bumpa's disappearing tricks and it really worked!  The penny is probably to my back by now."
I said, "Wait, do you mean you put the penny down your shirt?"
He looked at me funny and said, "Nope.  I put it in here," and pointed in his mouth.
I immediately thought, okay, something was destined to happen tonight.  We just couldn't get around it.  What else could go wrong?!
After a call to Erik at work, we continued getting ready for soccer, determining that he'd be alright.  Klaasen asked if I could stretch out a hanger and fish the penny out with the long part.  I explained to him that Daddy said the only way to get it out was to poop it out.  He made a disgusted face.  Maida stepped in and explained, "Klaasen, you will birth that penny just like a mom births a baby." He seemed to be okay with that.  We made it to soccer with no more problems and as we walked in, Klaasen announced loudly and proudly to everyone in the room, "I swallowed a penny and now I'm just waiting to poop it out!  I can't wait to get my penny back!"  Skogen added, "Yeah, he's going to birth it like a baby."  And I made sure to add that we were not planning to actually retrieve it, however, several parents flashed fake smiles in our direction and I knew exactly what they were thinking.... probably the same thing everyone else had been thinking about us all day...

We write to taste life twice, once in the moment and in retrospection.”
~Anais Nin