Sunday, October 21, 2018

Sweet Sabbath

Historian and social philosopher Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy claimed that "the greatest temptation of our time is impatience, in its full original meaning:  refusal to wait, undergo, suffer.  We seem unwilling to pay the price of living with our fellows in creative and profound relationships." Love doesn't rush past hard places.  Love enables us to listen when we are tempted to react.  Love moves us to seek understanding when we feel misunderstood.  Love is patient.  
~Alan Fadling, "An Unhurried Life"

Our freshmen year of college

Another writer summed up the definition of love centuries ago:

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices in the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."  1 Corinthians 13:4-7, NIV

When I married Aaron, I knew he was one of the patient people I had ever met.  What I didn't realize was that he was going to have to direct that patience toward me so very, very often.  "Love doesn't rush past hard places" is something Aaron lives out every single day.  And lately, it's been multiple times a day.  Protecting, trusting, hoping, persevering...those are DIFFICULT things.  As I rest and worship and restore and play today, I'm reflecting on how grateful I am for this guy who embodies God's love for me, and I'm reminded to not resist God's good work in my life (even when it's hard).

Saturday, October 20, 2018

"The greatest empires in the world were defeated, not because of someone else's military or political strength, but because they became vulnerable when they stopped paying attention to what was happening at home.  

The home is not just a physical structure where a family dwells.  It's not just the return address on your mail or the place where you park your car at night.  God designed the home to be a central part of our lives.  

The home is to be a nurturing place where family members build healthy relationships with one another, laughing and learning and growing together, and building a sense of identity and community from which a society is formed."  
~Devi Titus, "The Table Experience"

Friday, October 19, 2018

Fall Break

Fall Break began in the airport Saturday afternoon when all six of us were finally reunited.  Goofy and sweet.  That's us!  Aaron had traveled more than 19,000 miles, and we were all just ready to get home, make a pot of coffee, and catch up.

And wash lots of clothes.  With two college students and an internationally traveling husband all returning at the same time, this mama was happy keeping the washer and dryer going while the crockpot made the house smell good.  My heart was overflowing:  my favorite people under my roof and I had the opportunity to serve them.

Sunday morning, I sat in church with Sarah and Benjamin on one side of me and Aaron and the girls on the other side.  Oh, how I love singing together with all six of us mixing and matching harmonies as we worship.  Sunday afternoon, we loaded up the van and headed up the road to a state park we had never visited before:  Crowley's Ridge State Park

With all of the rain and clouds and our late departure, we opted for a quick walk around the lake where our cabin was located.  The water's surface mirrored the gray sky, but occasionally a fish or a turtle or a beaver would break the surface of the water.

We even found honeysuckle blooming!  Of course, we had to try it.  We also found that as the sky grew darker, we could see less and less of where we were going.  And the trail disappeared.  So we trudged through the marshy area around the lake before Aaron was suddenly up to his knees in water.  Then we decided that maybe it was a good idea to turn around and go back.  And the guys rescued us by literally running back to the cabin and getting the van so we could warm our numb fingers and toes.

Tuesday morning, we watched some more of our old family videos recently converted to digital format.  What fun to watch Sarah and Benjamin as teeny tiny ones and to discover that their personalities were still very much the same!  One of the highlights of the trip for me was listening to my college students singing harmony in the bathroom as they prepared for the day.  They introduced me to Skillet's song "Stars":

If You can hold the stars in place
You can hold my heart the same
Whenever I fall away
Whenever I start to break
So here I am, lifting up my heart
To the one who holds the stars

The rain began picking up as we approached the "Dancing Rabbit Trail", but we REALLY wanted to tackle it, so a couple of the kids went without shoes, and we decided to go as far as the suspension bridge.  I'm so glad we did!

The warm, dry van welcomed us, and as we began the drive back home, I looked for a place that could give us just a little bit more of an afternoon fika.  We were delighted to find Kibo Midnight Oil located in a super cute old house in Searcy.

Then real life kicked in again with heading to the gym and dentist's appointments and piano lessons and before we knew it, these amazing college students were driving away again.  I am so proud of them and the choices they are making as they become more and more independent.  It is always a joy for the six of us to be together.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

While Aaron was in Bangkok for meetings last week, the girls and I held down the fort at home.  

We also hit the library's used book sale ($.50 per pound!) and rejoiced in Olivia's completion of the PSAT by using a coupon for celebratory crepes at one of our favorite local restaurants.

By the end of his time away, we were extra grateful for the technology that allowed all six of us to share a screen and to anticipate a few days of Fall Break together.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Engaged in the work God has for us in the present moment...

"In my preoccupation with efficiency, I miss much that God wants to do in my life and say to me in the moment.  Hurry rushes toward the destination and fails to enjoy the journey.  Adding to the addiction to speed are cultural assumptions about hurry that are built into our mindset.  We have a bias toward hurry.  Ours is a culture that values speed, efficiency and quickness.  Waiting is bad.  Getting what we want now is good.  Period.  We don't stop to ask if what we're getting is even what we most deeply desire.  Hurry is a way of life in which advertisers have been mentoring us for years!" 

When I worked outside the home full-time last year, each day was already scripted for me.  Four schools in eight hours meant go-go-go all day, then coming back to the house to finish school with the girls and doing home things before falling into bed.  It was a full and good season.  So many of you understand what this feels like.  Now that I'm only subbing for orchestra, I have many more decisions to make with my time and energy, and I find that choosing how to invest during this season is more difficult!

"Being unhurried does not at all mean being unresponsive to diving nudges.  Being unhurried enables us to notice those nudges and to respond."  ~Fadling

So, I find myself still hanging out in Colossians and praying the apostle Paul's words from chapter one:  "We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way..."  

What that has looked like in our daily lives recently is grading music theory tests as I sub, driving to visit Aaron's grandmother and giving her a brief concert, completing daily school work (as well as exciting things like the PSAT) with the girls, Aaron flying to Bangkok for global leadership meetings, and sharing Taco Tuesday with my grandmother.  Every day is a new adventure when I'm asking expectantly how to use each hour!  And this is my goal:  "Living each moment in the light of eternity enables us to remain unhurried and engaged in the work God has for us in the present moment."

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Sweet Sabbath

I've been drawn to the little book of Colossians often lately, particularly praying this verse for my college kids:  "So, then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness."  But I'm discovering that I need to pray through it for myself even more often.  On this day of rest, I'm thankful for little things like gel pens in a variety of colors that get our creative juices flowing.  

For people who have the gift of words and how to pen exactly what I'm thinking, I'm also grateful:
"Meet me therefore, O Lord, in the doing of small, repetitive tasks, in the cleaning and ordering and maintenance and stewardship of that in these ordered spaces bright things might flourish:  fellowship and companionship, creativity and conversation, learning and laughter and enjoyment and health." 

Oh, yes!  Fellowship and companionship, creativity and conversation, learning and laughter and enjoyment and health.  That's exactly what I want my home to facilitate.  

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Happy Birthday, Aaron!

Aaron's birthday was earlier this week, and thanks to the generosity of family and friends, we're were able to get away for a night at Mt. Nebo State Park.  Monday morning, Aaron had an international video call at 4 a.m. to prepare for his upcoming meetings in Bangkok, so by early afternoon he had already put in a full day's work.  

We skipped town like a couple of jailbirds and drove up the mountain, thirsty for the peace and quiet that our favorite state park provides every time.  Many years ago, my mom gave us "Songs in the Key of Solomon" by John and Anita Renfroe, but in our overseas context, we just couldn't make the suggested dates and activities happen.  We decided to try again in America, and this book has been a fun discussion starter for us old married people.

Tuesday morning, we traipsed the trails and were delighted to find that the recent rains had reinvigorated the waterfall a little bit.  We feel like our souls were reinvigorated, too.

We finished up our short and sweet celebration with lunch and some "chocolate thunder from down under" at one of our favorite restaurants.  Then we came home, started laundry, enjoyed the no-bake cookies (Aaron's traditional birthday cake request) the girls left on the counter before they went to piano lessons, and picked up groceries.

This guy of mine will soon be returning to the other side of the globe again for some meetings, but for a little while, I got to undistractedly revel in the fact that I share my life with this incredible creation that is like nobody else.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

I asked Aaron to write a little bit about his trip back to the Solomon Islands a few weeks ago.  Here are his thoughts:

When the Bible is translated into a language that has never had it before, two extremes tend to guide our hopes or drive our fears. On one hand the worst case scenario is that the Scriptures are produced, and either they sit in a box in some closet never used, or they are bought and treated as show pieces collecting dust on household tables. One the other end of the spectrum is the great hope that the word of God will be read, understood, and begin to transform the life of the reader. 

Praise God, this latter case was story I found on my recent trip back to Solomon Islands. After being away from the Russell Islands and direct contact with the translation work in Lavukaleve for sixteen months, I was not sure what I would find when I returned. I was not surprised to learn that the translation committee had basically not been functional the whole time I was away. I was more saddened to hear that two of the translators had also slowly slipped away from the translation desk. 

In contrast, what joy I felt when I heard that one of the translators, Ezekiel, had remained faithful when all others seemed to fall away. Not only this, but God was providing him encouragement and support from a couple of school teachers in a nearby village. Together this small band was meeting regularly, working through the text or the gospel of Mark, questioning each other and learning from God’s word and about their language. God provided for, and help together His faithful remnant. What an awesome God we serve!

Late in my visit, Ezekiel came by and we had an opportunity to catch up. I asked if there was any report on the translations that exist for Ruth and Jonah. Ezekiel told me of a man named Ambrose in his village. Ambrose is a village elder. For a series of Sundays, Jonah was part of the Bible readings in church. Ezekiel was a strong encourager for the village readers to use the Lavukaleve translation of Jonah when the time came. 

After one of the readings, Ezekiel asked Ambrose what it was like to hear the reading in Lavukaleve. Ambrose indicated that hearing it in his language was much better. He mentioned that he could understand the reading when it was done in English or Pijin, but at those times, the words just hit his head. When he heard it in Lavukaleve, it was as if the words went straight to his heart.

Perhaps a week later, Ambrose came excitedly to see Ezekiel again. This time he told Ezekiel that he had heard Jonah. He proceeded to retell the whole of chapter 3. At the end Ambrose looked at Ezekiel and confessed that he was just like those people in Nineveh and that like them he felt he too needed to repent!

When I face difficult days, when we feel isolated and far from friends and family and the familiar of the US, when we are not sure anything we do ever makes a difference...this story about Ambrose is why we are doing what we do. God’s word, offered in a way that the people can understand best, transforming lives.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Autumn Abundance

Pears were abundant at the last farmers market of the season, so I stocked up.  This fruit tastes like Autumn to me, and I'm soaking up the cooler weather and the changing of the seasons.  In my rows of cookbooks, I couldn't find a lot of recipes using pears, but I did find this simple dessert that we enjoyed over the weekend.

Pear Clafoutis
6-8 Servings

4 pears
1 cup milk
3 eggs
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cognac or vanilla
Confectioners' (powdered) sugar

1)  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2)  Peel and slice pears.

3)  Prepare batter:  place milk, eggs, white granulated sugar, and cognac/vanilla in blender and whirl thoroughly at high speed for 1 or 2 minutes.

4)  Generously butter a square baking dish about 1 to 2 inches deep . Pour about 1/4 of the batter into the baking dish and place in oven for about 2 minutes or until batter has set.  Remove from oven and arrange sliced pears evenly on top.  Sprinkle a bit of confectioners' (powdered) sugar over the fruit.  Pour remaining batter over fruit, smoothing evenly.  Place in center of oven and bake for about 40 minutes.  Clafoutis is done when the top puffs and turns brown, though still remaining custardlike.  Remove from oven, sprinkle confectioners' (powdered) sugar on top, and serve while clafoutis is still warm.

Choate notes:  My clafoutis took longer than two minutes (more like six minutes) to initially set and longer than forty minutes (closer to fifty minutes) to finish cooking.  I omitted the powdered sugar, and the family said it was still plenty sweet.  As the four of us devoured the entire pan of comfort food, the serving size of 6-8 people seems a little skimpy to me.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

In the Mist

"She began to realize that, cowardly though she was, there was something in her which responded with a surge of excitement to the tests and difficulties of the way better than to easier and duller circumstances...she found herself realizing with astonishment that even the dizzy precipice had been more to her liking than this dreary plodding on and on through the bewildering mist.  In some way the dangers of the storm had stimulated her; now there was nothing but tameness, just a trudge, trudge forward, day after day, able to see nothing except for white, clinging mist which hung about the mountains without a gleam of sunshine breaking through."  
from "Hinds Feet on High Places"

Both yesterday and today, we've woken up to mist and fog enshrouding everything.  I sat on the porch with my coffee in hand and opened up "Hinds Feet on High Places" where the bookmark indicated I'd left off.  The chapter entitled "In the Mist" looked up at me.  As I began to read, I recognized little bits of myself in the main character, Much Afraid.  Not because I prefer the excitement and danger of the storms of life! But because I tend to become complacent in the daily tameness of the mist.

I actually prefer the duller circumstances, but I know that the Lord uses the more difficult aspects of life in the Solomon Islands to pull me closer to Him.  As we prepare to go back, I'm the only one in the family who isn't excited.  I love the work and the people, but honestly, I don't love how strenuous and hot and isolated life is.  I recognize that I am thrown at Jesus' feet more because of the hardships, yet the endurance and perseverance that is grown in me during times in the mist is a valuable asset, too.  I need both the storms AND the mist.

"We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirt gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way:  bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience..."

Colossians 1:9b-11

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Adventures in Korea

Katherine has moved over to Korea in her history and geography studies, so we scanned the library's shelves to see what books they had to enhance our learning:

"Peach Heaven" by Yangsook Choi
"A Single Shard" by Linda Sue Park
"Bee-bim Bop!" by Linda Sue Park
"North Korea and South Korea" by Cath Senker
"The Korean Cinderella" by Shirley Climo
"The Firekeeper's Son" by Linda Sue Park
"The Kite Fighters" by Linda Sue Park

We also discovered a Korean cooking website:  Maangchi.  We're having a hard time narrowing down our choices for which recipes to make, but I guarantee it's going to be fun and delicious.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Today, I'm super grateful for dentists.  It still feels a little surreal to have our teeth cleaned every six months!  And our dentist offices are fabulous.  Katherine's hygienist even offered her sunglasses to wear to block the bright light during the cleaning.

I'm also grateful for the diligence of my girls and for the flexibility of school at home (or at the dentist office!).  Olivia and I discussed Jane Eyre while Katherine had her teeth cleaned and Katherine and I talked about Kite Fighters while Olivia was getting her x-rays.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Happy Birthday, Katherine!

Katherine's two birthday requests were to have a birthday cake made by Sarah and to hit a piñata with all of her siblings.  I think this mama isn't the only one who has been missing our college students.

Trying to coordinate Sarah and Benjamin's schedules with our own super difficult, so for supper Sunday night, we tried Pieology minus Benjamin. What a great place!  The pizza was yummy, but my favorite thing about this restaurant was the row after row of inspirational quotes and scriptures lining the walls.

After supper, we made a quick stop to pick up some ice cream, then we drove over to Sarah's dorm where a fabulous birthday cake awaited Katherine.

Monday morning, we met the college students at a cute little coffee shop on campus, 

We had less than an hour together, but we hit the piñata for the reward of chocolate, drank copious amounts of coffee, and enjoyed every minute.