Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Welcome, August!

Fairest of months!  ripe Summer's Queen
The hey-day of the year
With robes that gleam with sunny sheen,
Sweet August doth appear.
~R. Combe Miller

Look what we found in our backyard!  Lilies always mean August to me.  I love discovering surprises in the yard from the sweet former owners of our house.  Our August is off to a great start - we're rolling along well with school, preparing for some road trips ahead, and beginning to get things ready for Aaron's departure for the Solomon Islands in a few weeks.  What does August look like for you and yours?

Monday, August 3, 2015

Good Neighbors

One of our concerns about living in America again was that we would miss the "open door" policy that we enjoyed in the Solomon Islands.  This weekend showed us we didn't have anything to worry about.  We discovered that our next door neighbor and the neighbor two doors down (for whom we were cat sitting) each had a birthday on Saturday.

So what was the proper thing to do?  For our next door neighbors, we decorated the porch and barely sneaked some cookies as they pulled into the driveway from their own birthday celebration. 
We took balloons, streamers, and a birthday carrot cake that Sarah whipped up to the other house.  We had a key so we could get in to feed the cats, and in less than five minutes, the kitchen island was decorated and the birthday cake was waiting for the family's imminent return. 

I have to admit that we decorated both houses with a little fear and trepidation because we know we've been forever changed by living in community overseas.  God quickly set our hearts at rest.  Within minutes, we had next door neighbors in our house, thanking us, visiting with us, and trying to help us figure out our sprinkler system.  And shortly thereafter, we got a text from the other neighbor telling us that carrot cake was his favorite.  A coincidence?  I don't think so.  Just another confirmation from our tender God who knows exactly what we need.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

More birthdays in July...


For some reason, July is the biggest birthday month on both sides of the family.  On the Choate side, six special people have rubies as their birthstone, so, a few days ago, we drove over to celebrate together.

 We had such a great time playing in the water to beat the heat, eating the Italian Cream Cake that Sarah made, playing lots and lots of Wii amongst the cousins,
and trying to figure out how to put together the transformers that Aaron gave his little nephew.  The vintage toys were from Aaron's personal stash of childhood toys, and those little robots kept us busy at the table long after we finished our delicious birthday cake and ice cream.

Getting this crew together is a rare treat - cousins from Arkansas, Japan, and the Solomon Islands don't get to hang out together very often!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Happy birthday, Sarah!

I love my kids.  I especially love how God made each one of them different.

Sarah chose her special day to reflect her ISFJ personality.  Calm, with time for family and reflection, she wanted to spend the night at Mt. Nebo State Park.  Just the six of us.

We hit the trails after we checked in, watched the sun go down, sang hymns together, and played cards way past bedtime.

 This morning, we started the day in a quiet and gentle (just like Sarah) way. 
Watching the deer graze nearby,
enjoying the spectacular view,
reading our Bibles and drinking our coffee.

I love this crew that God has given me.  And today, I loved getting to celebrate 16 years of life with Sarah.

When we got home, even our "normal" time reflected my sweet birthday girl:

a vintage industrial four-loaf pan (sourdough starter is already working in the fridge),

a gorgeous red velvet ice cream, complete with homemade cream cheese ice cream (of course, Sarah made every bit of it from scratch),

even a beautiful antique diamond and ruby ring that matched the delicious cake.

"Who can find a virtuous woman?  For her price is far above rubies."  Proverbs 31:10
I found one!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Sunday Senses

Sunday morning at our house...
Feels like - being convicted and encouraged by the book of James

Sounds like - Steven Sharp Nelson's "Sacred Cello" to help prepare our hearts for church
Looks like - the double althea getting ready to burst into bloom in our back yard

Smells and tastes like...the green beans and pork roast that "Team Choate" prepared before church so that lunch would be ready a few minutes after we walked in the door with growling tummies

Saturday, July 25, 2015

This mama's heart isn't quite ready for the letters from colleges to start pouring in...

Friday, July 24, 2015

More gifts

Yesterday was unusual for our family because the six of us spent our day in four different places.

But as I lay in bed last night, I realized some things.  This scattered lifestyle is not normal for us.  We usually maintain margin in our lives (when we aren't traveling internationally) fairly well. 

Each of us is doing well, even with our individual personalities and needs.  And the things we are investing our time in?  Those are so worthwhile.  They are gifts that we can't enjoy while we live in the South Pacific.  We have a totally different set of gifts to open when we live over there.

Our gifts for yesterday included me taking my two littlest girls to the zoo to observe God's amazing creation.

Olivia also attended a special class for students interested in pursuing veterinarian studies.  A vet and a vet tech spent time investing in Olivia and another young lady (only two students registered!).  Right up Olivia's animal-loving alley.
Benjamin continued his musical stretching at strings camp at UCA.  Every day he comes home full of stories of music and friends and fun.

Aaron had the opportunity to fill in at the last minute for a church just south of Little Rock.  Some senior saints were gathering, and both the piano player and the music minister had emergencies that prevented them from fulfilling their responsibilities.  Enter my amazing husband who doesn't get to serve this way as often as he would like.

And Sarah was gallivanting around with her grandmother to celebrate the upcoming sweet sixteenth birthday.  Having grandparents close at hand is certainly a gift!  Today was a day full of more gifts...wonder what good gifts tomorrow will hold?

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Sarah's Heart

Lots of people have asked about Sarah's heart monitor, and I keep forgetting to post an update.
She's been wearing the monitor for a couple of weeks now, but she hasn't had any more "episodes" for the monitor to record.  Which is a good thing!  She wears it all day long, and stays on top of all the details so well you almost don't notice that she even has it on.  The first Sunday after she got the monitor in the mail, she had to figure out how to wear the monitor and a dress at the same time.  A cute Solomon Island purse solved the dilemma.  Thanks for all of the prayers being lifted up on her behalf.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Full plates, full hearts...and lots of music

The last few days have been so full and sweet.  Benjamin is absolutely loving the strings camp.  Last night he thanked me for signing him up even though he was reluctant.  Almost made this mama cry.
He has been biking back and forth with his viola strapped to his back.  Monday afternoon, I took the girls to their piano lessons and we got to see Benjamin in between his rehearsal and the viola sectional.  Certainly, the house has been quieter with him away.  We all keenly feel that a little bit of the joy has left the house and love it when he comes home.

While Olivia was in her piano lesson, Katherine curled up next to me to finish her theory.  I'm so thankful for the cameras on phones.  Makes it easy to capture little things that I don't want to forget.

The piano tuner/repairman came to spend several hours at our house yesterday.  Last week, when he came to diagnose and give us an estimate, he informed us that it would be cheaper and easy to just buy a new-to-us piano.  And the piano would look nicer, too.  But how do you put a price tag on a piano that my grandmother received for her birthday - seventy years ago.  This piano has enjoyed four generations of my family tickling its ivories.  In addition, shiny and new never works well in our family.  I'll take the dinged up piano that looks beautiful to me and shows lots of love along with the wear and tear.

While the piano guy was at our house, I figured he didn't want lots of noise, so the girls and I went off to explore the bike trails of our home town.  The clouds gave way to sunshine as we pedaled up and down hills and wove our way around town.  Katherine was a trooper because the trail was much longer than we anticipated, and we had a great time!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Happy Birthday, Gran!

by Edward Tuck
Age is a quality of mind;
If you've left your dreams behind,

If Hope is cold,
If you no longer look ahead,

If your ambition's fires are dead,
Then you are old.

But, -- if from Life you take the best,
If in Life you keep the zest,

If Love you hold,
No matter how the years go by,

No matter how the birthdays fly,
You are not old.