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28 December 2014


How to Recognize Grace 
by Marilyn McEntyre

It takes you by surprise

It comes in odd packages
It sometimes looks like loss
Or mistakes
It acts like rain
Or like a seed
It’s both reliable and unpredictable
It’s not what you were aiming at
Or what you thought you deserved
It supplies what you need
Not neccessarily what you want
It grows you up
And lets you be a child
It reminds you you’re not in control
And that not in control is a form of freedom


Bedtime procedure:
mediate brothers sharing a mattress.
warn about sleeping baby.
sleep sweet sleep.


the first time- wow!
the return trip- meh. no big deal.

25 December 2014


A Christmas Prayer by Robert Lewis Stevenson
Loving Father, Help us remember the birth of Jesus, that we may share in the song of angels, the gladness of the shepherds, and the worship of the wise men. Close the door of hate and open the door of love all over the world. Let kindness come with every gift and good desires with every greeting.
Deliver us from evil by the blessing which Christ brings, and teach us to be merry with clean hearts. May the Christmas morning make us happy to be Thy children, and the Christmas evening bring us to our beds with grateful thoughts, forgiving and forgiven, for Jesus’ sake, Amen!
(courtesy of Challies Dot Com)

24 December 2014

358/365 or DPP 24

the aunts and the uncle and the grands and Christmas eve pi's and superhero poses and oh, exceedingly abundantly blessed.

357/365 or DPP 23

And why not have a piƱata at the birthday party for Jesus?

22 December 2014

356/365 or DPP 22

If you try to talk to the bison,
he never quite understands;
You can't shake hands with a mingo -
he doesn't like shaking hands.
And lions and roaring tigers
hate saying, "How do you do?" -
But I give buns to the elephant
when I go down to the Zoo!

from At the Zoo by A.A. Milne

355/365 or DPP 21

the relatives came and we all rejoiced!
(and the van was very full again. and the thumb was in the picture, alas.)

21 December 2014

354/365 or DPP 20

somehow I missed the part about "bring a dessert to share," but there was plenty and the fellowship was even more sweet than the pralines.

19 December 2014

353/365 or DPP 19

... (bright) paper packages tied up with string. These are a few of my favorite things.
"My Favorite Things" from The Sound of Music, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein, 1959

(slightly altered from brown paper packages, though those are some of my favorite things, too.)

352/365 or DPP 18

So good to be with our Mexican brothers and sisters and sing praises to our Lord together.

351/365 or DPP 17

Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, Love Divine;
Love was born at Christmas,
star and angels gave the sign.
Worship we the Godhead,
Love incarnate, Love Divine;
worship we our Jesus:
but wherewith for sacred sign?
Love shall be our token;
love be yours and love be mine;
love to God and all men,
love for plea and gift and sign.
Love Came Down at Christmas by Christina Rosetti, 1885

17 December 2014

350/365 or DPP 16

In the midst of December busy-ness and before trying to be an extrovert for a couple of hours, the light and stillness of the downtown storefront window spoke peace.

For it is you who light my lamp;
    the Lord my God lightens my darkness.

Psalm 18:28

349/365 or DPP 15

How many years has it been now, this Virtual Ornament Exchange party? 17, I think? Words flying, laughing out loud, and three beautiful angels to remind me of friends across the country who have shared the journey together.

348/365 or DPP 14

So many choices in that town, but we decided on ramen. Not your ordinary, rip open the plastic wrapper and add mystery powdered flavoring and boiling water, ramen. No, this was stand in line outside, waiting for 20 minutes before getting in the door, ramen. This was a bowl of steaming goodness ramen. This was fresh noodles and broth to heal what ails you ramen.

(at Ramen Tatsu-ya in Austin, TX)

13 December 2014

12 December 2014

346/365 or DPP 12

She wins 5 games to none in Uno Attack, and then captures Jaq & Gus AND Prince Charming to crush us in Princess Monopoly besides.

345/365 or DPP 11

They promised magic and we were not disappointed!

10 December 2014

344/365 or DPP 10

Afternoon painting pottery with the high school group- my turn comes next week...

343/365 or DPP 9

I love it when the playlist syncs to what I see all around me...

You are the sun shining down on everyone
Light of the world giving light to everything I see
Beauty so brilliant I can hardly take it in
And everywhere you are is warmth and light

And I am the moon with no light of my own
Still you have made me to shine
And as I glow in this cold dark night
I know I can't be a light unless I turn my face to you

- "You Are The Sun," by Sara Groves

08 December 2014

342/365 or DPP 8

The smile of recognition and the wave when we walked in was worth it all. Great job, violinist Phoebe! We are proud of you.

07 December 2014

341/365 or DPP 7

... because the rest of the day just wasn't so photogenic.
not bad, just not photo inspiring.

340/365 or DPP 6

I left the house before anyone was awake, and by the time I returned, they had made great progress on decorating the tree. I love my elves.

339/365 or DPP 5

The morning jog was all fog.

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

kept running through my head.

(lyrics from It Came Upon a Midnight Clear- especially the version by Sara Groves)

04 December 2014

338/365 or DPP 4

"The Gospel isn’t only what we believe in -- because the Gospel is ultimately what we. live. out."
- Ann Voskamp, A Holy Experience, 4December2014

03 December 2014

337/365 or DPP 3

a bag full of candy canes to decorate the bulletin board. (some don't think that they will all stay there...)

336/365 or DPP 2

the breakfast taco con huevos y tocino, tostado, y frijoles y cafe.
who says a date can't be for breakfast?

01 December 2014

335/365 or DPP 1

These two joined me for the morning run through the 'hood.

30 November 2014


baked cranberry oatmeal (try it! you'll love it!),
Joy to the World,
sweet winter Texans arrive,
little girls in candy cane stripes,
baked cranberry oatmeal,
a nap,
laughing through delayed Amazing Race watching,
laundry progressing,
silly text messages,
my favorite husband makes turkey soup,
sister phone call,
the still when everyone goes to bed,
fall colored leaves.

December Photo Project 2014

December Photo Project 20142014 marks the fifth year I have participated in the December Photo Project. This photography challenge has grown into a December tradition that I adore. It is not complicated- one photo a day for 25 days. But lets be honest. Some days are more photogenic than others. And so, the DPP turns into a photo challenge at times. I love how the December Photo Project prompts me to look at the world with new eyes, and how it encourages me to see beauty in unexpected places.

Really, no one has an excuse these days.
1. we all see beauty and the unique qualities of the world, in people, in creation, all around us, every single day- and if you don't, that's even more reason to participate.
2. only a few folks don't have a camera on their phone these days, so no more "I don't have a camera" excuses...
3. it's December! Everyone is taking pictures in December. You only look weird and awkward taking pictures every once in a while. (smile)
4. redeem Facebook! fill it up with photos!

Go to View from the Prairie Box to sign up today. Or tomorrow.
It's worth it, I promise.


"(Mothers) may want to find room to breathe, to weep, to panic. But they don't want it to end- this delivering, shaping, cheering, loving, bringing life into the world."
- Lisa Jo Baker, Surprised by Motherhood

Thankful for these creative, cheerful, cutting, pasting, stapling, laughing, scooting-down-the-hallways-on-her-belly-on-a-cart, sipping Sonic soda, girls (and their other sisters and brothers) that bring life, joyful and abundant, into our world.

29 November 2014


For there is no friend like a sister
In calm or stormy weather; 
To cheer one on the tedious way, 
To fetch one if one goes astray,
To lift one if one totters down, 
To strengthen whilst one stands.

- Christina Rosetti, from Goblin Market

27 November 2014


“The whole of the life -- even the hard -- is made up of the minute parts, and if I miss the infinitesimals, I miss the whole. These are new language lessons, and I live them out. There is a way to live the big of giving thanks in all things. It is this: to give thanks in this one small thing. The moments will add up.” 
Ann VoskampOne Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!
- Psalm 106:1 (ESV)


"Trust me," he says. "They call me the Dream Maker."
Dream Maker. Dream Faker. Dream Breaker.

24 November 2014


oh this guy!


A few scraped-up knees, a pair of really muddy cleats, a good number of points, rebounds, & assists, lots of smiles- three Holliday athletes gain four wins in four games in four days.

And we're thankful for a week off in the the week ahead.

23 November 2014


For it is precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little.
Isaiah 28:10

My work is slow and primitive at best, but the hospitality and friendship, rich and enduring. What ever happened to the old-fashioned sewing bee, anyway?

21 November 2014


We've played t-ball, baseball, flag football, gymnastics, basketball, volleyball, swimming, tennis, golf, soccer...
I'm not tired of it yet.

(p.s.- see my girls' coach? She's 33 weeks pregnant, and not complaining even when the game gets closer and closer, down to the last couple of possessions. She jogs onto the court when her player goes down with a rolled ankle. She rocks.)


It's just a little thing, this beautifully simple hand-cut hand-made snowflake, but it was a sweet gift at a moment when it meant an awful lot to me, and reminded me of a much-too-far-away friend who means an awful lot to me as well.


I smile that the trailer for the newest princess movie can still be dreamily magical...

19 November 2014


She came to me before dinner started, holding two papers in her hands. “Teacher,” she asked me in Spanish, “is this good?” I looked at the papers, which screamed in bold-face type, “A $5000 loan has been approved for you!” Easy! Fast! The paper made no mention of the penalties, fees, and sky-high interest rates that typically accompany such offers. The promise appeared so very enticing to my student, who could undoubtedly use extra cash to supplement her very tight budget. I was able to warn her that it was unlikely to be the great promotion that it appeared to be, that in the end she would likely pay much more, perhaps even double, than the original loan amount. “Oh thank you!” she told me, clasping my hands.

Another student arrived, away from class for the last couple of weeks and surprised to find that it was our Thanksgiving dinner night. I welcomed her, so pleased to see her, and asked about her sister, who is also a student. “Please pray for her,” she told me. “She is depressed because she has not been working.” “I will,” I promised. And I am.

One of our students wants to come to classes more regularly, desperate to learn better English, but without family or friends to care for her young and very busy children during class time. Another is seeking out more opportunity to learn, recognizing that she isn’t speaking the language enough but finding few options for formal learning in her everyday life. Every one of our students has a story to tell, the path which led to our classes, the factors which motivate them, the obstacles they face in their quest to master a new language.

As in all of the world, we meet people who have marital problems, who experience family difficulties, who battle constant economic struggles, who face health issues, and so much more. But for a couple of hours each week, our students push those things aside as we gather around a table and stumble over English pronunciation. We learn new vocabulary and unfamiliar sentence structure and the nonsensical irregularities of this non-native language. We laugh together with one another, and encourage each other along the way. We care for one another, and share a small sliver of life together.

And hopefully, with specific intentionality, we share our faith that in this world where struggles are many and real and there are very few EASY! FAST! solutions, we have hope. We believe in the son of God, Jesus, who came to save all nations, tribes and tongues, who offers eternal salvation for those who put their faith in him. What a privilege, to know Jesus, and to know these dear friends as well, to share a bit of their walk along the way.

17 November 2014


we know, we know. by the standards of most other places in these United States, it's not really very cold here. but, we felt just a tiny bit justified when we saw the birds at the pet store puff up and try to stay warm, too.


Two of the most loyal fans a player could ever have, these two.


And then, just as we were approaching the coast of France, a little plane zipped by, white contrail drawing a chalky line across the sky, speeding to cross the Ligurian Sea.


We heard stories that Pope Francis sneaks out of the Vatican at nighttime and goes into the streets of Rome, to meet homeless people, to pray with them.

I wondered if he ever wants to sneak into the Sistine Chapel, but he'd probably be even more annoyed than I was with people talking in not-so-low-whispers and taking surreptitious cellphone photos. Besides, if he wants to go into the Sistine Chapel, the Pope just says so, right?

(I am thankful that I will never be important enough to have to sneak out into the street..)


Doesn't one of the most wonderful parts about learning and experiencing culture come in eating?

The food.
Pizza and cappuccino and bread and pasta and mozzarella cheese and olives and olive oil and wine and...
Almost every day,

16 November 2014


Because, really-
how can you be at the Leaning Tower and NOT try to take this picture?
It's not as easy as one might think, to get a decent shot, the hands right, the tower completely in the frame, no random strangers showing up in the viewfinder.
Yet one more reason to be thankful for digital cameras!

And yes, when we turned the corner and saw the Tower through the wall... yes, I gasped.
(because really, in my mind, I confess, I guess I thought that the Tower stood alone, maybe more like Stonehenge, not in the middle of town, not with shops and a cathedral and A LOT OF PEOPLE right next to it...)


It was very difficult to tell who was the most delighted- the kids, the puppeteer, or everyone else watching them.


"The world is a book, and those who don't travel read only one page."
- St. Augustine of Hippo


I had to smile. Because I can see forward to the time when I might sit on a wall in the town plaza with my friend...

(well, NOT feeding the pigeons. ok, and probably not "sit on a wall," at least, not for very long. but the "with my friend" part, definitely.)

And I had to smile, because I pictured exactly the friends I might be sitting with.

(by the way, I'm pretty sure that none of them would be feeding pigeons.)