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28 February 2012


Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me

Morning by morning I wake up to find
The power and comfort of God’s hand in mine
Season by season I watch Him, amazed
In awe of the mystery of His perfect ways
All I have need of, His hand will provide
He’s always been faithful to me.

I can’t remember a trial or a pain
He did not recycle to bring me gain
I can’t remember one single regret
In serving God only, and trusting His hand
All I have need of, His hand will provide
He’s always been faithful to me.

This is my anthem, this is my song
The theme of the stories I’ve heard for so long
God has been faithful, He will be again
His loving compassion, it knows no end
All I have need of, His hand will provide
He’s always been faithful, He’s always been faithful
He’s always been faithful to me.
- Sara Groves, He's Always Been Faithful

(note: I don't know what church or chapel that bell tower belongs to. I discovered it peaking over the orchard, yet tucked back on private land as I was driving nearby late this afternoon. I want to find out more. And yes, those are orange trees- orange trees that are beginning to blossom and smell even more divine than you might possibly imagine. Yes, I am yet amazed that I can smell orange blossoms and it is yet February. And yes, I was wearing flipflops besides. Glory! Orange blossom photos certainly coming soon...)


and then I realized that pretty much every day there is a tea or coffee photo to be found at my house...

(and yes, I know, some of you are nodding knowingly...)


I've been driving for a long time but this was the first time I opened the hood and saw that...

25 February 2012

A song of praise

This week in the Psalms David reminded me-

I waited patiently for the Lord;
He inclined to me and heard my cry.

He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
Out of the miry bog,
And set my feet upon a rock,
Making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth,
A song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
And put their trust in the Lord.
Psalm 40:1-3

I was leaning towards that pit, that dark and boggy place. Left to myself, I would most certainly slide. No one really plans to go there; I don’t. But stories of brokenness and the reality of sin, they wear and they tear, and we can be so very weak.

But the Lord, He does incline Himself to me, and He shows me encouragement, through His words and through His people. He drew me up and set my feet upon the rock of truth this week.

I received a note, just two words- praying friend, and I knew that she was. Two days later came two phone calls from two far away friends, who just by remembering and taking that moment to call, not even knowing how timely it was, cheered me. Unexpected encouragements arrived, including notes from afar and a request to be added to our prayer list. “I love getting missionary family’s updates and will be praying for you all,” she wrote.

In preparation for Bible study on Wednesday, the Lord turned my face back to grace- and the reminder that it is not me, it is not my work that will fix anything. He turned my face back to the cross, and I read- vivimos al pie de la cruz toda la vida. (We live at the foot of the cross all our life.) Dwelling there, He provides the Holy Spirit- a Helper, a Comforter.

Finally, as if to cement those truths in place, I received a devotion on the old hymn, Jesus, Lover of My Soul, and for certain, there truth is found once more. I celebrate along with the fourth verse:
Plenteous grace with thee is found, grace to cover all my sin;
let the healing streams abound; make and keep me pure within;
thou of life the fountain art, freely let me take of thee;
spring thou up within my heart, rise to all eternity.

So on this Sabbath eve, I offer a song of praise to our God. Indeed, He put a new song in my mouth again this week.


The secret is to beat the egg whites 'til they are stiff.
(and yes, we are a two waffle maker family...)


The day dawned cool and breezy and I could wear a jacket and sit and wait and wonder what all might be ahead.

24 February 2012


"I've been... chased by paparazzi, and they run lights, and they chase you and harass you the whole time. It happens all over the world, and it has certainly gotten worse. You don't know what it's like being chased by them."

-Tom Cruise
(echoed by Dillon the Dog)


headed south, looking west.

22 February 2012


and I keep remembering,
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
(John 1:5)

20 February 2012

and then there were five

"Someday," she said out loud, thinking it all through, what five kids aged five and under would grow to be, "someday you'll have five teenagers."

I remember the moment exactly, as my friend and I stared at the newborn twins, three other toddlers and preschoolers passing in and out, around and through. And even though the presence of  five little ones seemed pretty darn intimidating, the idea of five teenagers was even more so. But at that moment, five teens seemed like a Very Long Time Away. And then, go figure, 13 years pass by, and sure enough, we have a house full of teenagers- five of them, ages 18, 16, 15, 13 and 13; four girls and one boy.

Those pre-five year old years... they were physically exhausting. Only a mom knows how tired a body can be during those years. To compound it, during the majority of those years my husband, their dad, was out to sea on a submarine. Grace sustained us. God gifted us in placing families nearby to love on me and my kids. Our church family gave to us generously. They brought me meals unexpectedly, shared themselves liberally and prayed for us fervently. To this day, my heart is tender for those years, though you couldn't pay me a million dollars to do it again.

But these years, the teen years... they are  a different kind of exhausting. It's realizing that time is short; knowing that soon and very soon these people will be On Their Own and asking do they know Everything That They Will Need? It's riding out the daily roller coaster of hormones and emotions, the highest of highs and the lowest of lows following one steep climb and descent after another. It's constantly evaluating how to balance the scales of justice and mercy. Some say it's choosing what battles to fight, but I think parenting teens is often more like walking across a field knowing that it is filled with landmines. You never quite know what will trigger an explosion.

I recently met a young woman, the mother of one sweet little toddling girl, and she seemed to know all the answers. She answered questions with assurance and offered advice unhesitatingly. I probably did that too, but I'm not nearly as confident at this point in the journey. Five kids teach you that sleeping through the night- that's a myth. Effective discipline strategies for one kid mean absolutely nothing to another. One gets a stomach ache when she drinks milk, while another drinks it by the gallon. The only one-size-fits-all instruction is also a promise- train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

I remember when I worried over babies who cried in the nursery and bit other toddlers (inevitably a best buddy, the child of your best friend...) and I figured that at least one would probably not be potty trained before the 10th birthday arrived. If only that were where the worries of parenthood would end. Now there are the struggles of the internet and relationships and letting a driver out on the expressway and college choices and...

When there were five under five, we'd pray a blessing over them every night. Now I pray constantly, seemingly randomly throughout the day, daybreak to sunset. I know some parents hope to get through the teen years with a kid that hasn't dropped out of high school and isn't a teen parent and hasn't been arrested. I do too.  But I know families that have survived these "worst case scenarios" and more. I'm not stopping there. Against the way of the world, I am praying expectantly and hopefully that these covenant children know and love and serve God and others with all their heart, mind, soul and strength, that they know and live grace, now and for a lifetime

No, we are not finished yet. But I see and hear and watch and learn, and I know that we have been blessed far more abundantly than I ever could have asked or conceived. And that simply takes my breath away.


even color by number is not quite as simple as you might think it would be...

19 February 2012


grateful for Christ.
for grace.
for the promise of eternity.


The pottery place was closed.
And the movie wasn't showing at the right time.
But there is Red Mango in McAllen.
All was not lost!

17 February 2012


confession- my tolerance for gamerooms is low.
Very low.
But I love the girl who loves the gamerooms.
Very much.


Why am I suprised when they look even better a couple days later? Isn't that often true in life?

16 February 2012


a lunch date with my groom.

more Port Aransas

a couple of days away

I escaped with a few friends early in the week. We traveled over to the southern coast of Texas, to Port Aransas on the northern tip of Mustang Island, one of those barrier islands separating mainland Texas from the Gulf of Mexico. We purposed to be there to study, discuss, and reflect on From Fear to Freedom by Rose Marie Miller. It is a challenging and convicting read. We were reminded of the power of God's grace. We were encouraged not to live as orphans, but to fully recognize our status as daughters of the Most High King. We reflected on sin patterns and religious moralism and forgiveness and submission and the spiritual battle being waged around us.

Some gems from Mrs. Miller-

As a rebellious victim I was blinded by the fact that bitterness in human relationships is also bitterness toward God. You cannot be bitter toward the creature without becoming bitter toward the Creator.

The stormy orphan saw a glimmer of light- hope for possibly a better way to live, and a first calmness entered my soul. The worst pain was yet ahead, but now it was healing pain. I was learning that no imperfect human being can ultimately meet another person's deeper needs.
Think of the human state of one of stubborn blindness. We will rely on everything but God. He in turn will prepare us for grace by closing our favorite escape exits until there in only one way left.

One of the most serious of human faults is relying on ourselves instead of relying on God. There is nothing we give up more reluctantly than the feeling that "I can do it." When that doesn't work, our natural impulse is simply to despair.

You keep toughing it out; you keep trying; you keep pressing on. These are good qualities to have if the underlying basis is faith. But if it is done simply out of self-effort, then you are bound to fail.

This is indeed the deepeest comfort- to be accepted by God, totally forgiven, and then by grace to forgive the deepest wounds and hurts.

I have an anchor in my soul. I know that grace is always for sons and daughters who know and admit that they are not self-sufficient. As part of the family of God, I am still hungry for God and his grace, and strangely enough, a beggar needing all that Christ has to give. Grace always surprises me by the wonder of God's infinite compassion, but his infinite compassion means little if I do not have infinite need.

- Rose Marie Miller

We ate well and laughed heartily. We prayed and we even sang. We explored Port Aransas a bit, and wandered on the beach, and marvelled at the clouds. We caught Downton Abbey just one day late. I was excited to be able to leave, and I was glad to come home, exactly what a get-away should be.
I am extraordinarily blessed.

(and aren't those birds amazing?)

14 February 2012


What you know about the power of Christ determines the strength of your faith. Know a little bit about Christ and his omnipotence, and you have weak faith; know more about Christ as sovereign Lord, and you have more faith; know a great deal about Christ, and you are on your way to having great faith.
-- Rose Marie Miller, From Fear to Freedom


“Friendship is one of the sweetest joys of life. Many might have failed beneath the bitterness of their trial had they not found a friend.”

― Charles H. Spurgeon

(which has nothing to do with the bird and everything to do with the ladies I was with when we met it...)


road trip.
oh I do love a road trip!

happy valentine's day

But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.
1Corinthians 13:13

(found at 22Words)

11 February 2012


Some would see problems.
I also see opportunity.

10 February 2012


if you were in 3rd, 4th, or 5th grade, it was probably the greatest field trip ever- fishing, crafts, climbing the rock wall with your entire class cheering you on, riding the schoolbus AND pizza on the way home?!

09 February 2012


"And indeed this is the last and not the least gracious of the casual works of magic wrought by rain: that while it decreases light, yet it doubles it. If it dims the sky, it brightens the earth. It gives the roads (to the sympathetic eye) something of the beauty of Venice. Shallow lakes of water reiterate every detail of earth and sky; we dwell in a double universe... But wherever trees and towns hang head downwards in a pigmy puddle, the sense of Celestial topsy-turvydom is the same. This bright, wet, dazzling confusion of shape and shadow, of reality and reflection, will appeal strongly to any one with the transcendental instinct about this dreamy and dual life of ours. It will always give a man the strange sense of looking down at the skies."
from "The Romance of Rain," (in In Defense of Sanity) by GK Chesterton


it had been so long
and they tasted so good,
and ok,
so maybe I considered hiding the box in my closet...

07 February 2012


Pulled out the cribbage board and dusted it off. Then we had to go buy a new deck of cards. It had been that long.
So far, I'm ahead, 2-1. Those of you who know, look carefully... I left him in the stink hole, after being this close to being skunked, besides!

06 February 2012


A good start on a Monday, and the day's work complete...


He left his Father's throne above
(so free, so infinite his grace!),
humbled himself
(so great his love!),
and bled for all his chosen race.
'Tis mercy all immense and free;
for O my God,
it found out me.
Amazing love!
How can it be
that thou, my God,
shouldst die for me?

"And Can It Be" (TH 455, v. 3) by Charles Wesley, 1738


Shouldn't Market Days include fresh produce?
Street tacos, good conversation, and a stop on the way home save the day.

03 February 2012


youth group leaders, we are not.
but, I think a good time was had by all.


in a creative, not conniving,
kind of way.

01 February 2012

why libraries and why bookstores and why books and why read

For almost half an hour, I wandered within the winding labyrinth, breathing in the smell of old paper and dust. I let my hand brush across the avenues of exposed spines, musing over what my choice would be. Among the titles faded by age, I distinguished words in familiar languages and others I couldn't identify. I roamed through galleries filled with hundreds, thousands of volumes. After a while it occurred to me that between the covers of each of those books lay a boundless universe waiting to be discovered, while beyond those walls, in the outside world, people allowed life to pass by in an afternoon of football and radio soaps, content to do little more than gaze at their navels.
from The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafron

(it amazes me that even a library less than two months old smells like a libray...)

booklist- 2012

a list of books completed in 2012, including books of the Bible:
(because in truth, maybe public accountability will lead to a few less Solitaire and Tetris games and a lot more reading!)

Alone in Majesty by William MacDonald
The Memory of Old Jack by Wendell Berry
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
The Trellis and the Vine by Colin Marshall and Tony Payne
A Praying Life by Paul Miller
Clementine and The Talented Clementine by Sara Pennybacker

From Fear to Freedom by Rose Marie Miller
Making Kingdom Disciples by Charles H. Dunahoo
Clementine's Letter by Sara Pennybacker

Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Little Bee by Chris Cleave
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
We Are All Welcome Here by Elizabeth Berg
The Legacy of Biblical Womanhood by Susan Hunt
One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

Eyes to See edited by Bret Lott
Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen
By Design by Susan Hunt
Rosie by Anne Lamott

(photo credit: Vintage Library Card Bookplate You Print It by relove on Etsy)


have I mentioned how much I love the library...?