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30 December 2010

Thus far

What a year, 2010.

I began the year hopeful, expectant, of what was ahead, of what the Lord would show us, of where He would take us.
Perhaps a bit anxious, as well, taking steps in faith, one by one, eyes fixed on a path that He set out.

The first half of the year often found me pressed on every side, mourning “lasts” while taking care of tasks. At times, it seemed there was a mountain ahead of us, and we were barely over the first hill. There were times, so many times, that we simply came to the end of ourselves, and there was absolutely nothing else to do but pray. And in those times, our God always, every single time, provided for us.

In the second half, homeless but never without a place, I almost felt as if we were following His cloud by day and His pillar of fire by night. And yet, the fellowship we experienced was rich. We knew His presence keenly. I often felt alone, but I never felt abandoned.

In this year, He met our needs exceedingly abundantly, far more than we could ask or conceive. He gave us people when we were in need. He provided funds when we didn’t know where else to ask or to look. He opened doors we thought had been closed. He gave us His Word at specific moments for encouragement. He showed me my sin, and then gently poured on grace. He took us on roads we had not before travelled, and He made us to be blessed.

And 12 full months later, I rejoice in His goodness.
Again, I look ahead expectantly, and again a bit anxiously as well, for what lies ahead.

Today I was reminded of Samuel, who set down a stone, and said, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” Yes, today I look back at the past, but like Samuel, I then turn towards the future, knowing the journey is not yet finished and ever certain that He will be faithful to bring His plan to completion. Charles Spurgeon writes, “When the words “thus far” are read in heaven’s light, what glorious and miraculous prospects they reveal to our grateful eyes!”

Onward to 2011!

(photo credit: Stone by karinaliberty on Etsy)

All things new

from Revelation 21-

a new heaven and a new earth;
the holy city, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband;
"He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them...;"
He will wipe away every tear;
and death shall be no more;
no mourrning,
no crying,
no pain.

And he who was seated on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." Also he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." And he said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment."
Revelation 21:5-6

Oh the hope!
NOW I remember!
This is why I persevere through Revelation each December!

(photo: taken this week at a carnival here in nearby Zapote.  Behind us, the sky was ominously dark.  Around us was dirty and crowded and loud.  But in the distance, the hope of the rainbow.  Seemed like a good match for this post...)

28 December 2010


Leaning hard brings rest like nothing else. To lean hard you must get under God’s feet and submit to His plans and purposes, even if you do not see them fully or understand them at all. Leaning means shifting all the weight of the burden from your shoulders to His. This may have been the first Christmas you have had without someone dear to you. Lean, rest, and trust. And the more we lean and lean hard, the more peace and rest we will find. Leaning hard means that we say, “He does all things well. This is perfect for me.” And saying that requires faith, and faith is the thing we want.
- Nancy Wilson, Lean Hard, Femina

(photo credit: Lean on Me Taos Pueblo NM by erinseay on Etsy)

year end mags...

I love the end of the year "Best"'s.
If I were in the States right now, I promise, I'd be sneaking over the library, finding a chair in the corner, and reading all the year end magazines...
silly to Simple to Sports.

For the best photography of the year, check out the National Geographic Traveler 2010 World in Focus Photo Contest winners. Someday I want to take a photo that good...!

hmmm... maybe I should make a year end list... 

(photo credit:  2010 World in Focus Photo Contest, "Happy Girl" by Marjorie Lang)

25 December 2010

December Photo Project- 25

So simple.
And a palm tree too.

Look now!

O ye beneath life's crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps so slow;
Look now, for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing;
Oh rest beside the weary road
And hear the angels, and hear them sing
- It Came Upon a Midnight Clear

Thinking about the promises fulfilled by Christ's coming takes my breath away.

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, Lord God Almighty, The Most High God, Master, My Banner, My Shepherd, Healer, God With Us, Our Righteousness, Everlasting, Provider

What a wonder, today, to rest beside the weary road and hear the angels sing!
Merry Christmas!

(art credit: Cantet Nunc Lo by Tate)

December Photo Project- 24

We sang, and everyone smiled even though we are clearly amateurs. 
We worshiped.
We were taught.

And then we ate tamales!

23 December 2010

December Photo Project- 23

Five times three makes quite a lot around our little tree.

mmm hmmm...

(credit to just jenni)

22 December 2010

One who stayed

What Frans didn't say is that those accusations were beside the point, the aroma of Christ already so strong among them. Little, a 61-year-old optometrist, had worked four decades in Afghanistan, spoke fluent Dari, was referred to among Afghans as one of "the ones who stayed": He and Libby reared three daughters there, survived the Russian occupation, civil war, and Taliban takeover. When a rocket attack flattened one of his eye hospitals, he built clinics and expanded into remote areas. He was on his fifth trip to the Nuristan region when he and nine other aid workers were killed Aug. 5.

The year 2010 has brought multiple encounters with people like the Littles, "ones who stayed," men and women of whom the world is not worthy, as the writer of Hebrews calls them. One is Joel, pastor of an evangelical church in Baghdad. Asked how to pray for a congregation that has faced death all year long, he didn't ask for safety or prosperity but for his church to experience deliverance from a "spirit of religion, where we worship creation instead of the creator" and from "our spirit of pride, rooted as we are so close to ancient Babylon."

That phrase, it comes back to my mind over and over again-
"the ones who stayed"...

(photo credit: AFP Photo/Handout/Courtesy of Tom Little Family/Newscom)

December Photo Project- 22

They set up house in time for lunch, and even included a welcome mat at the front door.


December Photo Project- 21

So this Christmas, give gifts if you like. We will in our family. Receive them all with thanksgiving. But do not forget what we need most–salvation from our sins. This is one gift the real St. Nicholas would not have overlooked. In fact, I’m convinced, if given the opportunity, he would have loved to be there with the shepherds and the angels, bowing down around the manger in Bethlehem. And I bet he would have brought a present too.

- Kevin DeYoung, Santa Claus with the Baby in Bethlehem (part 2), DeYoung, Restless and Reformed

20 December 2010

December Photo Project- 20

When we have much, may we enjoy God in everything,
and when we have little, may we enjoy God as everything,
and Jesus is with the poor so why would we want to be

any different?
- A Jesus Advent Celebration, day 19 "Watching for Him who is Enough," by Ann Voskamp

19 December 2010

December Photo Project- 19

It was the 12th year for our "virtual" ornament exchange and chat.  I'm so thankful for that group of friends!

December Photo Project- 18

Sometimes it takes a winding path to get from one place to another.

18 December 2010

December Photo Project- 17

It was a blue sky day, but by the end, I was mostly blue.

16 December 2010

December Photo Project- 16

Looking out our windows this time of year, we can see it, the whole world bedecked in strands of lights, twinkling and blinking awake. Because we once lived in a dark land, a time before the warming hope of Christ, but now we celebrate the Light of the World who now shines the brilliance of grace upon us. We wake to wonder!

- from A Jesus Advent Celebration (day 13- Light to Warm Us) by Ann Voskamp at A Holy Experience

15 December 2010

December Photo Project- 15

And for a while, I forgot that it is December.

14 December 2010

December Photo Project- 14

Instead of the regular study, we were asked to share the Lord's blessings in our lives this year.
Where do I start?
I barely know the words.

13 December 2010

December Photo Project- 13

First day of vacation.  No where to be, nothing special to do.  For the first day, that was a good thing.

12 December 2010


Seen:  I adore all things Geninne.  Period.
(this- Galison)

Heard: “I’ve been climbing my whole life and I’m only at the bottom of the mountain…My hands cannot reach it and my mind cannot comprehend it, but my soul is going to get there one day.” -Christa Wells
Go here, and then click on #9, On the Mountain.
This song makes me want to get in the car, and get on the highway, and head straight into the horizon with the stereo turned very loud. 
Alas, no car, no highway, no stereo,
but I promise that in my head, I'm singing loud.

Read: I bought Bonhoeffer for my Kindle PC/Touch this morning.  I'm excited about that.
The Kindle software has been really handy since we don't have access to a many books right now. 
I love that I can highlight passages.  I love that it takes no room.
But here's what I don't like- I can't tell how many pages are left to read in a chapter...

Pondered: A pattern.  Reasonableness and gentleness. 
That's what I would like to be known for, too.

December Photo Project- 12

A pretty twirly swirly dress and her first formal party, a Quinceanera.

Time goes by oh so very quickly...

11 December 2010

December Photo Project- 11

I saw it, and went back in to get my camera.  I was surprised it was still there, and that I got the picture, too.

(the Great Kiskadee)

10 December 2010

December Photo Project- 10

They didn't have to wear their uniform shirt today if they wore Christmas wear. 
It's good to have a spiffy tie for the Christmas party when your last name is Holliday...

09 December 2010

December Photo Project- 9

Why does a Costa Rican rental house have a Statue of Liberty in the window?

08 December 2010

December Photo Project- 8


... and coca-cola.

07 December 2010

December Photo Project- 7

One more day of final exams. 
We'll be thankful to be finished.

06 December 2010

December Photo Project- 6

He can still outplay the boy. 

05 December 2010

God with us

From tonight's Advent devotional readings-

I am with you and will protect you everywhere you go and will bring you back to this land.   I will not leave you until I have done what I promised you.
Genesis 28:15

"God is with us in this season of coming and going and God is with us in these places,though we knew it not, at our tables and in our cars and down our street and in the unlikeliest, unexpected places, even in a place like the manger of a barn and we meet God today in a thousand places. Who knows it?"
- Ann Voskamp, A Holy Experience

(art credit:  Marc Chagall, Jacob's Ladder, 1977)

December Photo Project- 5

It was the only candle we had, and then we took it out to save for the next time the power goes out. 

04 December 2010

December Photo Project- 4

walking home at dusk, the streetlights meld with the sunset.

Winter is where hope lies happy.

I haven't yet missed the coming of winter a bit. But this poem describes all the things that I do love about winter, and it makes one a bit nostalgic about the change of season...

(From the Bench at the Bend in the Trail)

I know that I should cringe
When I think of the muddy cold
Of winter in Tennessee.

But today, with my daughter
And her friend prancing
In the brown grass yard,
Crunching leaves, singing,
Rosy cheeked and rowdy
In the chill of Autumn,
Refusing their sweaters,
Drinking the dusk
Like a mug of cider,

I look to the early dark
Of winter with easy joy,
Because those are the days
We light candles, eat soup
And keep the water hot
For tea, or coffee, or cocoa
With those crunchy little

Those are the days
We wrap ourselves
In quilts my mother made
To watch our favorite movies.
Or we dust off the gameboard
And look out the windows
At the weak light and yearn
For past (or future) graces,

For dying days like this one,
Or days like last April
When I felt against my lips
How the new leaves
On the maples were soft
As a baby’s foot.

We find some peace
In warm pleasures:
In the smallness
Of our heated house
Beneath the vast
Mountain of cold air
Piled on us clear
To the stratosphere,
Trying to freeze us
In our lamp-lit hollow,
Our cleft of calm and longing
Where we tend the fire:
Memory of Autumn’s embers,
Coming song of spring,
Summer kicking in the womb.

Winter is where hope lies happy.

(credit to Andrew Peterson at The Rabbit Room)

03 December 2010

December Photo Project- 3

Fudge from the Junior High Bake Sale- it was very good, but reminded me that I miss my friend... 

02 December 2010

December Photo Project- 2

Once she talked to her teacher and realized that it would all be fine, she looked much happier.  I thought that is how it would work out.
(lots of great pictures at the December Photo Project)

01 December 2010


The nicest thing about rain is that it always stops.  Eventually.
- Eeyore

It was raining when we went to bed,
and when we woke up, it was raining.
It was raining when we went to bed,
and when we woke up, it was raining.

And it is still raining.

They tell me that December is the beginning of summer.
I'm ready.

December Photo Project- 1

The poinsettias and the party brightened up the day.

(December Photo Project at View From the Prairie Box)

December Photo Project

29 November 2010


And we are made of the dust of this earth and we are made of the happiness of heaven and we are flesh and we are spirit and we are of two worlds longing for the home of His world.

The authority of God made all of creation. But it was the affection of God that made all of His children. (Prov. 8:31)

We were made by Love! For love! Made in the image of God to look like His love!

The Christmas story is a love story, the whole blue marble of the world spinning on the axis of His love… Could anything be better?

- from Jesse Tree Advent Devotional at A Holy Experience

I am so thankful, and probably unnatually excited, for the Advent season this year.  We "did" Advent well when my kids were young.  And then, in the last couple of years, we found ourselves out of the house almost every night- sports practices, church activities, life...  Sadly, the quiet waiting and watching for Christmas, for Jesus, perhaps became just another "thing" to do by the end of the day.

But the season has changed.  We have few of the obligations of years past.  We once again know the gift of time together.  We have none of our Advent "stuff" with us- none of the calendars, not the wreath, not the nativity scenes, not the decorations.  And maybe, maybe even because of that- this year I anticipate this month of preparation even more.  We have one single candle, standing in rice in an empty salt shaker.  We made a simple line of paper cones to serve as our Advent calendar this year.  And we are taking turns creating the Jesse Tree ornaments each night. 

Every night, we take a turn, to light the candle, and read a bit.
And as always, our Lord and His Word are ever sufficient. 
Could anything be better?

(photo credit:

28 November 2010

morning light

The clear, pure light of the moning made me yearn for the truth in my heart, which alone could make me pure and clear as the morning itself and tune my life to the concert pitch of nature around me.  And the  breeze that blew from the sunrise made me hope in God, who had breathed into my nostrils the breath of life.  He had so completely filled me with His breath, mind, and Spirit that I would only think His thoughts and live His life.  Within His life I had found my own, but now it was eternally glorified...
- George MacDonald

(art credit:  Morning Plains by bluedogrose at Etsy)

25 November 2010


The Christian is suspended between blessings received and blessings hoped for, so he should always give thanks.
—M.R. Vincent
(thanks to ChalliesDotCom)

I think that Thanksgiving might be my favorite holiday.  It's such a simple day, really, giving thanks, being with loved ones, celebrating with good food.  Here where my family is, in Costa Rica, they don't celebrate a day of thanksgiving.  I sort of feel that they are missing out.  As I read this morning in Psalm 92,

It is good to give thanks to the LORD
And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High;
To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning
And Your faithfulness by night,

Today I am thankful for a traditional dinner- comfort food at its finest,
friends to share it with,
talking with all kinds of family,
kids excited about Advent,
a day off from school tomorrow,
the stillness when the entire house is quiet,
exceedingly abundant provision. 

But I'm ever aware of how all that is temporal.  There are also the days with rice and beans,
and lonliness and longing,
and an empty mailbox,
and grumbling,
and nonsensical pronouns and verb conjugations,
and wet towels,
and a never ending line of ants. 
Am I thankful then? 

I am quite sure that I am only able to answer yes because of the exceedingly Good News of the Gospel, the saving work of Christ on the Cross.  I am thankful for forgiveness when I am so very undeserving.  I am thankful for the promise of salvation, and for everything made new in eternity.  I am thankful for the grace and peace of the Christ, for the one true God who formed me, and knows me, and shows me more mercy and love than I will ever really understand.  I am thankful for His rest.

Suspended between blessings received and blessing hoped for, I will give thanks.

(art credit: Giving Thanks by cec115art on Etsy)


It's never too late for a new tradition, right?

Inspired by the great idea of Gretchen at Lifenut, prior to the traditional Thanksgiving dinner this year, we served a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving dinner.  Of course, none of us are quite as smooth as Snoopy in the kitchen, but even my kids think that sharing toast, popcorn, pretzels and jelly beans as an appetizer, all while watching the movie, is a fun idea.  (ok- in truth, we skipped the toast this time...)  I think it's a brilliant tradition for families with little kids, and I'm going to keep it up as long as there are youngsters in my house.  Or visiting my house.   

Of course, we also had a more traditional meal, including the uniquely Holliday ham/onion roll-ups.  I'd sure like to know the origin of the roll-up, but it pretty much seems to be one of those "because that's how we've always done it" traditions.  Surprisingly, finding green onions isn't as easy as you think it might be, but for the sake of tradition, my husband sought them out, and the kids rolled them up. 

Who would think that jelly beans and green onions are making memories on Thanksgiving? 

21 November 2010

A Prayer about God's Delight and Our Hope

I read this prayer first on  It was written by Scotty Smith, pastor of Christ Community Church in Franklin, TN. 
This prayer speaks my voice too, as I too am prone to "put my good feelings ahead of your declared delight."  Today, I come to Him for fellowship and renewal. 
Nothing else truly satisfies.

His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of a man; the LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love. Psalm 147:10-11
 Compassionate Father, once again, I come before you as a repeat offender… a man suffering from doxological dementia… one of your beloved children who gives you multiplied opportunities to demonstrate the wonder of your “unlimited patience” (1 Tim 1:16). I’m a perpetual candidate for summer school in the gospel. I demonstrate this in many ways.

Whenever I feel disconnected from you or get disappointed with me… whenever I experience the accusations and condemnation of the enemy… whenever I see other believers more zealous… missionaries more passionate… young converts more committed… or friends more generous… my default mode is to lace up my running shoes and get busy for you.

Instead of coming to you for fellowship and renewal in the gospel, I start running to do something to fuel my pride and tame my conscience. I put my good feelings ahead of your declared delight. I put pleasuring me ahead of pleasuring you.

For as you tell us in this Scripture, you don’t find any pleasure or delight in the strength and movement of our “legs”—in what we can do for you. You find great pleasure as we put our hope in what you’ve done for us in Jesus. Indeed, where can we find your unfailing… unwavering… unending love? Only in the gospel of your grace. This is counterintuitive and contrary to the way I’m wired and the way the world works… literally the way the world works.

Astonishing… to fear you is the beginning of wisdom… and we fear you the most when we hope most fully in your unfailing love for us in Jesus. Father, should we forget where we parked our cars… the address of our homes… or even our own names, may we never forget this glorious gospel. So very Amen, we pray, in Jesus’ most merciful and grace-full name.

19 November 2010

December Photo ProjectI participated in the December Photo Project at View From the Prairie Box for the first time last year, and I'm looking forward to doing it again this year.  It's kind of hard to take a lot of pictures here in Costa Rica.  We are warned against carrying our cameras around, as it makes you a mark for theft.  But, I see pictures waiting to be taken everywhere.  In December, I'm going to try to take them! 

Stay tuned!
And maybe, join in the fun yourself? 


15 November 2010


The drops almost seemed to pierce us, sharp as needles hitting our skin. The towels in front of our faces grew heavy, drooping with the increasing weight of water. Streams flowed down my face, and I could taste a hint of the salty sea mixed with the rainfall. My glasses were a windshield, needing wipers to clear them enough to allow me to gaze.  I could hear the whine and hum of the boat engine, and yet wondered with every thump against the pound of the surf, what would happen if this boat were to break? Snap in half and leave us floating in the sea?

In order to renew our tourist visas to stay in Costa Rica, we have to leave the country 90 days after we enter. So this weekend, my family traveled to Boca del Toro, Panama, an island in the Caribbean known for beautiful beaches. After at least 80 days of the rainy season in Costa Rica, we were looking forward to sun and sand.

We went to Panama this weekend.
We soaked in the Friday sun, rejoicing in just being under its warmth for the first time in a long time.
And then, Friday night, it started to rain.
For a full day!

And yet, we adventured on.
We snorkeled in the Caribbean.
We swam in water perhaps warmer than the outside temperature.
We sat on beaches lined with coconut palms and surrounded by aqua green blue waters.

We dined at a Mediterranean restaurant owned by a Belgian Brit. We enjoyed an amazing meal of fresh mahimahi and coconut rice. We savored cheap ice cream cones. And handmade chocolate macaroon cookies. We breakfasted on fresh bagels and cream cheese for the first time in months. We sipped strong dark coffee.

We traveled with others who would adventure on, too. We laughed and shared stories and played games. Thanks to our Tica guide, we sang along, motioned along, some, ahem, danced along, to videos from the Carpenters and ABBA. And then we laughed some more.

We crossed the border back and forth without incident, even traversing a rusting old railroad bridge, the missing trestles exposing the river flowing beneath us. We paid less than we expected, and in general, waited for a shorter period than we anticipated, too.

As we passed by the countryside, as we saw the more shades of green than I know words to describe, tropical flowers bright, rusted roofed homes, folks waiting for buses, children in uniform riding their bikes to school, fruit stands waiting for buyers. Who is it that actually pays for bananas when they grow for miles in every direction around you?

And through it all, I marveled that our family has the opportunity to live here. To experience language and culture. To know His grace and His provision.

Yes, the sun comes out again.
And we might try Panama again, too.

(confession:  it took a good part of the weekend for me to be able to just say "Panama," without busting into a VanHalen "Pa-na-mah, Pa-na-ma-ha..." My only plea is that I was a teen in the '80's.  Sadly, once I got THAT chorus out of my head, ABBA replaced it.  I watched the video, and if you really want to know, The Name of the Game seems to be Parchesi...)