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30 June 2008


"When all was quiet, the firefly flew through the night, flashing its light, looking and searching again. Then the very lonely firefly saw what it had been looking for... A group of fireflies flashing their lights. Now the firefly wasn't lonely anymore." The Very Lonely Firefly, by Eric Carle

Be certain, a group of 5 fireflies are not lonely anymore. Barry, Gary, Harry, Jerry, and Terry are resting, and flashing, in a mason jar tonight. "We'll let them go tomorrow, if they don't die tonight," S assures me.
Fireflies are a bit of magic on a Midwest summer night. They appear out of seemingly nowhere, suddenly, in June, and you can be certain summer has arrived. Their time with us is short, just as short as summer seems to be. For a girl like me, growing up in the arid, and firefly free, southwest, fireflies are a wonder. Oh, I know that their glow is easily explained. I am awed nonetheless.
Sleep bright, band o' fireflies!

The Point?

We have not yet seen WALL-E, the latest in Pixar movie magic. But we plan to, eventually. (maybe when it hits the cheap seats. Do the math. First run movie X 7=$$$) This quote, by the film's screenwriter and director, Andrew Stanton, piques my curiousity even more. For the entire interview, go here.

“Well, what really interested me was the idea of the most human thing in the universe being a machine because it has more interest in finding out what the point of living is than actual people. The greatest commandment Christ gives us is to love, but that’s not always our priority. So I came up with this premise that could demonstrate what I was trying to say—that irrational love defeats the world’s programming. You’ve got these two robots that are trying to go above their basest directives, literally their programming, to experience love.

“With the human characters I wanted to show that our programming is the routines and habits that distract us to the point that we’re not really making connections to the people next to us. We’re not engaging in relationships, which are the point of living—relationship with God and relationship with other people.”

29 June 2008

R & R & what love looks like

In the interest of full disclosure, I do need to confess that not all of our time in south Texas was spent working in the heat. The three youngest H girls had the privilege and pleasure of spending the week 175 miles east, temporarily adopted as members of the F clan. And then, at the end of our week, K, J, and I joined them.

What a treat, and what a relaxing end to our trip. It was a few days of home away from home. Highlights include worship at Covenant, celebrating E's birthday, singing and guitar playing, a day on the South Padre Island beach,

dinner at the Rainbow Cafe, hunting down bargains at the outlet mall, reading stories with young un's on an air mattress, and of course, laughing, laughing, laughing with children and adults alike.

In If, Amy Carmichael writes of "the Eternal Things, and the greatest of these is love." She reminds, "... it is the dear human love about us that bathes us as in summer seas and rests us through and through. Can we ever cease to wonder at the love of our companions? And then suddenly we recognize our Lord in them. It is His love that they lavish upon us. O Love of God made manifest in Thy lovers, we worship Thee."

Thanks for showing us a sweet glimpse of such love, F family. We'll be back. :-)

28 June 2008

Matthew 11:28

Fotografias de los ninos

Fotografias de los amigos

Fotografias de la familia

Laredo Missions 2008

It was my delight to return to Laredo again this year, to continue the work we began last summer, to renew old friendships and to be blessed by new ones. To see how the Lord is faithful even through our limited efforts. This summer, our work at Iglesia La Vid was two-fold, to continue work on the building that will serve as the sanctuary for La Vid, and to hold a Vacation Bible School for children in the morning.

Working with the children, and the ladies and teens of La Vid, in the morning was really a delight. We sang and played and learned verses and heard stories. The faces remain indelible in my memory, so curious and so ready.

The building work was hot. We were pleased to finish the exterior painting on the back of the building and on half of the final side of another. On the inside, we were able to construct the staging at the front of the sanctuary, insulate a good portion of the walls, and begin to hang drywall.

We look eagerly and expectantly to the building being complete. Aproximately $100,000 will be needed to complete the work, and more teams to help. Please continue to pray for those needs.

I cannot well describe the joy it is to work so very hard, and to strive to further the Kingdom just that little bit more. I think my words are inadequate to communicate how much of a blessing the fellowship of believers can be. Jesus told us, in John 15:10-11, "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, and that your joy may be made full." I find that it is in that keeping, in service and in communion with others, that indeed, our joy is made full.

I have plenty of pictures of the week to share, but I'm still working on how to do that best. So, meanwhile, here's a photo of our team, at the beginning of the last day, when we weren't too grubby yet. :-)

On Holiness

"Holiness is not a merit by which we can attain communion with God, but a gift of Christ, which enables us to cling to Him, and to follow Him." John Calvin

Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord?
And who may stand in His holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood,
And has not sworn deceitfully.
Psalm 24:3-4

27 June 2008

The Storm Reveals...

The latest chapter in the seemingly never ending severe storm season- a quick moving front that turned day to dark in a matter of mintues. Wind that broke trees and branches and left leaves on the street as a thick green carpet. Rain that turned our street into a swiftly running river. Hail marbles that bounced across roofs and sidewalks and windows. And then, a few minutes later, it was over.

We lost a big BIG branch from a silver maple, but we are rejoicing that it landed in the street, not hitting cars, powerlines, houses, or most

especially, people. We drove around our area of town later, and saw many downed trees and crushed property. We were blessed tonight.

Our good neighbors, a crew of guys eager to use their chainsaws, had the branch divided into sections and pulled to the sidewalk before we knew it. We have a lot of cleanup and hauling to do tomorrow, and if you need some firewood, just let us know.

Those old silver maples, so deceptive. Two inches of good healthy outside wood, and then, rot. Rotten to the core. Nasty, black, slimy bug filled rot. The brokeness of the branch exposes the darkness, and no one can deny that tree will not stand strong much longer.

But, then I think, is my core much different? I'm grateful for a promise of being made new; the words of the Lord that promise restoration for His people. "When they come there, they will remove all its detestable things and all its abominations from it. And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances and do them Then they will be My people, and I shall be their God." (Ezekiel 11:18-20)

And, in this season of so many storms, storms that make me anxious and leave work yet to do, I'm thankful for the sovereignty of God. The introductory line of Psalm 29 reads "The Voice of the Lord in the Storm." The beginning of the Psalm itself reminds us of His power-
Ascribe to the LORD, O sons of the mighty,
Ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due to His name;
Worship the LORD in holy array.
The voice of the LORD is upon the waters;
The God of glory thunders,
The LORD is over many waters.
The voice of the LORD is powerful,
The voice of the LORD is majestic.
The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars;
Yes, the LORD breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.

That is the God I am trusting in.

19 June 2008

From the field...

It has been a quick week for us.
HOT! (as in 108 F today!)
We're enjoying everything about the week.
I have been blessed, by the folks I'm working with, by the kids we're teaching, by the work itself.
Here's a few pictures to tease until I have opportunity to sit down and share more.
See J. playing games at VBS. A self-portrait of me and B. A group of girls from up above. T, VERY sweaty- ewwww!, measuring and measuring again. (measure twice, cut once, right?)


14 June 2008

On the Road Again

This morning, my family and a team of four others start from Norman, OK- we are headed here to do construction work and a mini-VBS for the people of Iglesia La Vid in Laredo. We are excited! But we have a ways to travel today. Pray for our safety as we head south. Hopefully I'll be able to check in sometime this week. Blessings!

13 June 2008

Weeping and rejoicing

Our family is mourning the loss of a friend this week. One of J's good buddies was killed after a tornado directly hit and destroyed the Little Sioux Boy Scout camp. We're already missing Sam. He is the kind of young man that you are happy your son has as a friend. J and Sam have sung together in the homeschool choir for several years, from a time when there were very few boys singing. They have played on several basketball teams together, and this spring, they have been on the same baseball team. Our confidence is that Sam loved the Lord, and so, even in the midst of weeping, we can rejoice.

And, we're proud of another friend who was at the camp that night. We rejoiced when we received word that he was safe on Wednesday night, and we're thankful that he's able to go to the next camp.

"Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep." Romans 12:15

08 June 2008

Damage Report...

... Minimal. Just a couple of branches. And we're thankful for that!

The cause? A middle of the night storm that rolled, crashed?, stampeded?, through town. I awoke to the sounds of the tornado sirens at 2:30 am, and hurried the kids to the basement. During the day, bad weather does not frighten me, but in the dark of night, when it's difficult to get information about what's going on, we were all much more anxious.

All our local weather guys must have been caught by surprise too, because the typical middle of the night programming was on tv for a good while, nothing like the typical hour-after-hour storm coverage that comes with a severe weather watch during the day. After a short time we finally started getting local information from the news/talk station, that has a couple of guys that live near the station.
This morning, the tv news is reporting a possible tornado right here in O!, though west of my neighborhood. Close enough, however!

We sure didn't expect our backyard tree- a buckeye tree? a horse chestnut tree?, to be damaged! We're much more anxious about the silver maple in the front yard, but thankfully, it's still there.

06 June 2008

Friday Five- O! Summer!

Today's Friday Five:
Five things our family loves about O! summers!

1. Swimming: Usually "swimming" has meant the summer season with our neighborhood pool and the City Swim League. But this year, big time swimming comes to our town. Today, K is headed downtown to the Qwest Center for the Mutual of Omaha SWIMVITATIONAL, a pre-Olympic Trials event. Then in July, the Olympic Swim Team trials will be held in the same pool. (Go here for video of the pool being constructed)The photo is from the very cool banner that is on the front of the Mutual of Omaha building during the events. Very cool!
(photo credit to Jeff Bundy of the Omaha World Herald)

2. Baseball: This week J started games with his team, the Cardinals. In the two games he has played in, he played at catcher, pitcher, and third base. But, there's other baseball we enjoy in the summer, too. Of course, Omaha is home to the NCAA College World Series and we've been fortunate enough to been gifted with much coveted tickets to that event each of the last couple of years. We also look forward to the Omaha Royals Independence Day game and fireworks each year.
(photo credit to the CWSOmaha)

3. Concerts: Two free summer concerts we're looking forward to, both at Memorial Park- the "Bank of America Celebrates America" concert with Grucci fireworks. I ask you, what sings "celebrate America" more than Kool and the Gang, 38 Special and Night Wing? Ok- so maybe it's not the music, but the opportunity to lay outside, eat a bunch of picnic-y junk food, buy glow in the dark necklaces, and watch fireworks... On July 12, the city sponsors Feist, that admitedly, I am neither cool or hip enough to know if it weren't for this commercial. But, again, outside, junk food, free... :-)

4. Arts and Parks: Each year, the kids and I, and sometimes other eager tag-alongs, wander through the Summer Arts Festival, picking out our favorite pieces, watching people and pets, snacking on treats. We can hardly go downtown without a stop at our favorite ice cream shop, Ted and Wally's. We always stop for a run down the slide in the Gene Leahy Mall.
(photo credit here)

5. Doing not much of anything at all, or whatever we feel like doing...
"Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass on a summer day listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is hardly a waste of time." ~John Lubbock

Staying up late. Catching fireflies. Sleeping in. Reading. Playing with neighbor friends. Running through the sprinklers. Crafty creations. Watermelon. Popsicles.
(photo credit: me.)

Summer in O!.

04 June 2008

From Sunday School

from the Heidelberg Catechism:

Q1: What is your only comfort in life and in death?

A. That I am not my own,
but belong-
body and soul,
in life and in death-
to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.

He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood,
and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil.
He also watches over me in such a way
that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven;
in fact, all things must work together for my salvation.

Because I belong to Him,
Christ, by his Holy Spirit,
assures me of eternal life
and makes me wholeheartedly willing
and ready from now on to live for him.

Back on land...

Cruise day 7 was primarily spent at sea, docking in Victoria, B.C. at the end of the day. After dinner on the ship, K, J, and I ventured ashore, mostly because the kids wanted their passports stamped in Canada. (L & S had a farewell pajama party to attend at the Kids' Club...) But after a 30 minute walk to downtown Victoria, it was dark and after taking a couple of photos of the Parliament building, lit up and the site of film production in progress, and a statue of Queen Victoria herself, we found a taxi and headed back to the ship.

After pulling into Seattle on Saturday morning, we traveled back to the airport to pick up a van, and then went nearly right back to where we started, but this time to Safeco Field, home of the Seattle Mariners. It was "Salute to Latin American Beisbol Day" at Safeco, so we were all recipients of "Marineros" caps as we walked through the gates. Bonus! Our seats were straight back in center field, so we had a great view of Ichiro's 51. We started the game with the roof opened, but it was closed part way through due to rain. Such a surprise in Seattle... :-) James was delighted with a 5-0 Mariners win.

After finishing the game, we drove onto the ferry to Bainbridge Island, heading over to the Kitsap Peninsula. Love the ferry! They even have Wi-Fi now! We spent the evening reacquainting with old friends at a BBQ and marveling at the beauty of the area.

It was such a blessing to be back among our church family in worship on Sunday. Hardly any could believe at how "the babies" (the twins) had grown. Hardly any could believe T's shaved head! :-) Quote of the morning, "You (K) are the only one who looks like you should!" :-) We were able to spend time catching up with dear family friends and truly enjoyed the end to our trip.

Ship Building

Friday midday brought the “Whatever Floats Your Boat” shipbuilding competition. Papa, T and J worked hard, well, mostly Papa worked hard, to create an original model that was also sea-worthy. They designed and built a model tender boat, a remarkably authentic miniature of the lifeboats used on the MS Oosterdam.

The ship had to be able to sail with a cargo of 12 cans of soda. The Ship’s Tender Hollidam survived sea trials, first in the calm waters of the hot tub, and then truly tested in the rough seas of the jetted whirlpool. In a voice vote from the crowd, they won first prize in the competition, beating out the aircraft carrier “USS Oops-or-Damn”. Who says it doesn't pay to have a large, and vocal, family? :-) The winning crew received silver picture frames, a couple of “Dam” t-shirts and a couple of “Dam” mugs. Yay!

Here's video of the sea trials...

03 June 2008


Cruise Day 6

Early Thursday morning found us in Ketchikan. Ketchikan is on an island, essentially built into the rocky slope. The streets of the town are steeps, and some are not "streets" at all, but boardwalk sidewalks down alleys, accessible only by foot. Ketchikan is known as both "the Rain Capital of Alaska" and "the Salmon Capital of Alaska" but we saw neither. We did see lumberjacks and totem poles, though.
Our first stop was at the Great American Lumberjack Show. What a kick! We enjoyed every minute of the "competition" between the Spruce Mill and Dawson Creek camps. We cheered with hearty "yo-HO's." The kids even had their photo taken with the lumberjacks. Hmmm... I think all the ladies wanted their photograph taken with the lumberjacks... :-)
Then we wandered along the coast to Totem Bight State Park, which showed us beautiful views of the coastline and nature of the region, and magnificent examples of the totem carving of the Alaskan tribal culture.