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31 March 2015


We bless thee therefore for the day sacred to our souls 
when we can wait upon thee and be refreshed.
"First Day Morning- Worship," from the Valley of Vision

We just missed the group leaving and so very unexpectedly we had the afternoon all to ourselves. We sat in the shade and read, the wind not nearly as gusty as on the other side of the wall. The vivid paint colors brighten the shadows. The flowers bloom in pink and orange and yellow brights. The smoke of grilled meat and onions waft over the walls. The bass of the music and the chatter of the neighbors and the cheeping of the birds and the barking of the dogs and the clip clops of the horses all fill the soundtrack of the afternoon. A morning of worship and an afternoon of rest.


I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. 
Job 42:2 (ESV)

We ate our fajitas and pico and caught up on happenings and were reminded again of God's faithfulness, from the yesterdays of long ago until today.


Pizza and game night!


I scoured with an OxyClean paste. I scrubbed with the Magic Eraser. Slowly and with due diligence previously lacking, the long ignored shower tiles began to show signs of hope. But the true miracle cure? A 1:1 ratio of warm white vinegar plus blue Dawn dishwashing liquid applied with a spray bottle and left for 2 hours before rinsing made the shower shine like almost new.

Now if only that nasty grout...

29 March 2015

"A Prayer for Palm Sunday"

 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall speak peace to the nations; his rule shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth. As for you also, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit. Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double. Zech. 9:9-12 (NIV)
    Dear Lord Jesus, we’ll exhaust the glory of this passage when the Amazon River flows backwards, the sun turns into a snow cone, and Yellow Fin Tuna yodel. Who is it that fulfills Zechariah’s magnificent vision? It is you, King Jesus, and we welcome you and rejoice in you on this Palm Sunday.
     No other king could vanquish warhorses and warriors, riding the foal of a donkey. No other king could break the battle bow and backbone of warfare, by the brokenness of the cross. No other king could replace the dominion of darkness and the tyranny of evil, with an eternal reign of grace and peace.
     No other king would give his life and death for the redemption of rebels and idolaters like us. No other king can possibly make slaves of sin into prisoners of hope.
     Lord Jesus, you are that King—the King of glory, the Monarch of mercy, the Governor of grace, the Prince of Peace—the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! Great is our rejoicing, because grace is our salvation!  You have come to us and for us—righteous and victorious, loving and sovereign. 
     By the riches of your grace, continue to free us from waterless pits, broken cisterns and worthless idols. By the power of the gospel, enable us to live as prisoners of hope and agents of redemption, until the Day you return to finish making all things new. So very Amen we pray, in your holy and matchless name.

27 March 2015


Catalog Day!!  I wasn't expecting it to arrive so soon but there it was, sitting on the pile of today's mail. Do you have kids between newborn and 80 years old? You need the Sonlight catalog too.

Sonlight has been our primary homeschool humanities curriculum for almost 15 years. We could not be more blessed. The instructor manuals are a tremendous help, mapping out the year in manageable and well sequenced order. I believe that heart that the curriculum shows for missions and the world profoundly influenced our own desire to pursue cross-culture missions. Our graduates have been well prepared for life beyond high school, achieving excellent scores on standardized tests and succeeding in college.

But even if you don't homeschool, I recommend the Sonlight catalog to you as one of the very best reading lists for toddlers to adult. Through Sonlight my kids were introduced to some of my favorite friends- Frog and Toad, Beezus and Ramona and Henry Huggins, the Ingalls family, the Cricket in Times Square, Betsy and Tacy and Tib, and Encyclopedia Brown. Together we met missionaries to Burma and to India and to Africa and to the streets of New York City. We traveled through history with togas and Vikings and colonists and adventurers and ordinary kids in their time and place. We read about the customs and cultures and traditions of faraway places, ancient and modern both, in the context of literature and narrative and biography, not solely through the monologue of a textbook. At the older grade levels, the lists take the students through the "highlights and hallmarks" of American literature, the world classics old and new, and the authors every reader should know.

But the best measure of success, more than the test scores and good grades? My girls still squabble over the newest catalog- each wanted to get her hands on it to remember all the old favorites and see what might be ahead in the school year to come. Sonlight has helped to inspire a love of learning in my kids, and for that I am grateful and blessed.

Needless to say, we are fans. For more information and to check out this tremendous resource for yourself, check the Sonlight website. Or just ask us!

26 March 2015


"Lord Jesus, well beyond this current season of Lent, continue to smite my heart with more of your glory and your grace. I want to boast much more in your righteousness than in my being right. Strengthen my heart with your grace. Continue to feed me from the altar in the tabernacle of the gospel. Though I know you only in part, you know me perfectly, and that is enough. I pray in your peerless and powerful name. Amen."
- from "A Prayer about Being Smitten with Jesus," in Everyday Prayers by Scotty Smith

25 March 2015


Cold Mexican Coke
Bottle cap flying off.
Cane sugar sweetness.


So maybe the field wasn't quite in World Cup condition... the stickers, the pond from recent rains, the horses staked next to the goal. Maybe the players weren't quite World Cup mentality-  the sweet tea cup splashing ice as he ran. And maybe the ball was a bit flat, sounding a thud across the field as it hit the ground. But the day was tremendous and the sky was fairy tale blue with cotton ball clouds. We laughed out loud and cheered and jeered with broad smiles that transcend every language barrier. There was no place else any of us wanted to be than right there.


The trip east to the Island started with a detour for conchas and donuts. The haze kept the spring break crowd away for a good while, at least long enough for us to remember what blessing living near the beach truly is.


Just-right late spring evenings, a crowd of friends, a couple cousins, two van-fulls of snacks, and a couple really good movies on a drive-in screen (and what?! sitting on the top of the van?!), not to mention the providence of having jumper cables in the back and two super helpful guys to hook us up and get us back among the living when it was all over- THIS must be living very well!


I looked around and realized we may have passed a milestone. Four teens shopping without complaining, agreeing on a restaurant, enjoying each other's company, and I enjoying theirs as well. These are the years that we have been waiting on...


We started the pre-dawn road trip in the most usual way, at the gas station for a fuel fill-up and breakfast tacos to sustain us. The roadside remained shrouded by a heavy blanket of fog, the bright overhead lights merely cloudy beacons in the mist. We marveled at the heaviness of the darkness around us, normal roadside markers shrouded by the dense haze. Thankfully the only casualty was my pants, dotted and splattered with salsa verde that finally revealed itself in the mid-morning light.


Don't burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don't quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.
Romans 12:11-13 (The Message)

Thankful for friends to share Sunday lunch, for friends who share their best with us, and for a generous share of Sabbath rest.


Even if it doesn't have a radius of 3.14, this Strawberry Rhubarb slab goodness is still a pretty great representative of Pi Day 2015!


The polka rhythm of the Tejano tunes crossed the street, the accordion and the deep bass echoing across the parking lot. Does a traveling carnival have a soundtrack for every region they visit?

12 March 2015


The cows stared at us, obviously unaccustomed to a 12 passenger van rolling behind their otherwise quiet and secluded back pasture. They weren't the only ones questioning our presence. Driving that hulk of a van on top of a canal, I had my doubts as well...

I imagined the conversation with my husband-
"Um, the van is in the canal."
"Well, the road was muddy, REALLY muddy, and I didn't want to get stuck, but I couldn't really turn around, and I kept driving, but I couldn't stop, and..."

Thankfully it all ended well.

Maybe it was that burst of sunshine and blue skies and wide open windows for the first time in a week that gave us a sense of invincibility? Maybe it was a touch of Spring Fever? Maybe it was peer pressure? Whichever, we stopped to take a picture, traversed those last few yards of canal, and laughed until the (*ahem*) cows came home.



Oh Daylight Savings Time, you poseur. I can't keep track if I am falling forward or tripping backward or going in whatever direction you tell me to change. You keep telling me that you are here to help, but I don't see it. All I know is that you kicked my bee-hind on Saturday night, and wake up time certainly seemed awfully early on Sunday, and Monday wasn't yet quite right either. By Wednesday I should have had you figured out, but my regular morning run seemed much more dusky than it did a week before. It seemed like I turned off the streetlights as I passed them by, clicking off one after another as if I was flipping off the switches for the day ahead. Why can't we just leave things be?


Homemade tamales and posole and arroz and frijoles negros and enchiladas (and BBQ chicken and Church's) and ensalada de pollo and ensalada macaroni and chicharrones and rayas de cebolla y poblanos en queso and two kinds of Jello salad and two kinds of cake with whipped cream frosting.

And my students, who persevere and keep on trying to master this crazy English language, and opportunity on opportunity to love and to be loved. I remain so thankful for Tuesday evenings.


my One a Day.

09 March 2015


I tiptoed through the wet grass and bent down close, the hem of my skirt and the canvas of my shoes damp. "It might be the prettiest thing that happens today," I told my questioning observers. 

It was pretty, but it wasn't the loveliest thing, after all. Later, there were the saints gathered to sing hymns of the faith, and the youth lined up to lift their voices. But that single photo was blurry and out of focus, kind of like me at the end of a very full weekend. It will have to be a memory.


May God, who puts all things together, makes all things whole,
Who made a lasting mark through the sacrifice of Jesus, the sacrifice of the blood that sealed the eternal covenant,
Who led Jesus, our Great Shepherd, up and alive from the dead,
Now put you together, provide you with everything you need to please him,
Make us into what gives him most pleasure, by means of the sacrifice of Jesus, the Messiah.
All glory to Jesus forever and ever!

Hebrews 12:20-21 (The Message)


The cross focuses on the utter spiritual poverty of human beings and locates our righteousness in Christ alone. The cross is an offense because it proclaims the weakness, the ungodliness, and the inability of human beings to please God. It calls on us to place all our hope for righteousness in Christ, and such a message is a great scandal for all who worship themselves and are entranced with their ability. Perseverance, then, is nothing other than grasping the scandal of the cross until the day we die.
- Thomas Schreiner, Run to Win the Prize (2010)

clinging as tightly as I am able.

05 March 2015


If you are sufficient for your task, it's too small. 
- John Piper


"We're starting to look at heaven in a different light. The Puritans spent so much time talking about heaven. Jason recently heard a sermon that said the reason for so much materialism in our world right now is that we've taken our eyes off of heaven and we're looking for this place to be the comfort that it is not."
- Kara Tippets, in "Dying with Grace," ByFaith magazine, Q1.15

I spent the afternoon with my friends. He is in hospice care at home, sitting up in his wheelchair and out of bed for the first time in a couple of weeks. We listened to discussion about paperwork and care providers. We watch the muted tv screen, stealing glances at silly adults dressed up for Let's Make a Deal and laughing at the plaintiff ordered by Judge Judy to spit out her gum. We muttered out loud prayers that a strong man would be available to help him back into bed. Tommy, a gentle hulk of a man, arrived as an answer- and with a strong step and miraculous turn, danced him back to bed. We set up the Caring Bridge site, and enjoyed one another. I left with a smile of thankfulness.

The air felt warm today, and seemed to mock the warning of the cold front to come. On the way back down the county road, the sunflowers called me over. I pulled off onto the shoulder, clicked on the flashing hazard lights, and waded through the tall grass. The flowers wave and sway in the breeze and never quite stop still to pose. They are a bright spot, but they are temporal. Already their petals are drying up and their leaves are beginning curl and sag.

I, too, am starting to look at heaven in a different light.

04 March 2015


Ordinary day.
Ordinary grace.


The guest (whether she comes in the form of a stranger, a neighbor, a long-awaited friend, or even my own daughter) is an interruption. To extend hospitality is always to open the door to disruption in some form. 
- Christie Purifoy in "Unlearning the Art of Hospitality," from Art House America blog

Thankful for those who open their doors and share so generously, allowing me and mine to disrupt their lives. We smiled all the way to dreamland.

02 March 2015


This little girl and her big brother ran circles around me and practiced their jumping and leaping with vigor. They lined up animals and people and cars in good order (and why shouldn't the llama ride the school bus?). They stacked blocks 'til they crashed and rolled balls across the rug and gave the sit-n-spin a few spirited whirls. We thanked God for our animal crackers and goldfish on kleenex tissue placemats and ate them together seated on kid-sized chairs at a kid-sized table. It was the very sweetest time of my day.

There were years of serving in the nursery because I "had" to- because I had a string of little people and needed to take my fair share of turns. It wasn't that I didn't want to serve in the nursery during those years. Yet it certainly was assumed that I would. (and that was all good and right, I think.) Now, however, come the years of serving in the nursery because I delight in it. It only comes around every 6 weeks or so. After several years in the same place, I now again have the privilege of caring for the same little ones that I have seen baptized, the ones to whom I vowed to "undertake the responsibility of assisting the parents in the Christian nurture of this child." In these days of parenting teens and young adults, an hour with babies and toddlers passes in a blink of an eye. Yet the gift continues to surprise, when the following week, the little ones give you a shy wave as they catch your eye across the sanctuary or embrace your legs with an unexpected hug in the Sunday school hallway. Who would not be quickly woo-ed?

I walk out thankful for the privilege of life in the covenant community once again.