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 things...so 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.

Monday, September 24, 2018

What an honor to spend some time with members of First Baptist Church in Mountain Home this weekend!  They opened their homes and hearts to us and encouraged us to share about Bible translation and our lives in the Solomon Islands.  Sweet fellowship indeed.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Weekend Wonders

We intuitively know that goodness and beauty are connected to the divine, that "every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights" (James 1:17)….We are not only grateful for pleasure; our hearts wonder what kind of Creator makes a world that overflows with such loveliness and beauty.  As Lewis says, "One's mind runs back up the sunbeam to the sun."  
~Tish Harrison Warren, "Liturgy of the Ordinary"

This weekend, I'm grateful for things that are making my mind run back up to the Father:

-A cold front that brought rain on the first day of Autumn.  Beginning the morning with a hot cup of coffee, a Bible, and a quilt on the front porch is one of the best ways I know to start my day.

-My new favorite album.  This has been on repeat lately.  How I love these old hymns with their modern choruses, both drawing my thoughts to biblical truths.

-Method cleaning products.  My friend, Gayly, got me hooked on these lovely scents and friendly cleaning.  The grapefruit all-purpose cleaner makes me WANT to clean!

-Van school.  It's been a while since we took a family road trip, but this weekend we are traveling several hours to share with a church, so we might as well make the most of our time on the road.  Proud of my Olivia and Katherine for their hard work!  I get more car sick than the girls do, but peppermints helped us get through the winding roads.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Adventures in China

In addition to our favorite picture books about China, we're enjoying our school books, too.  Classics like "Where the Mountain Meets the Moon", "Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze", "Lu Lin, Lad of Courage", and "House of Sixty Fathers" have been on our shelves for years.  This year, since we're living in America, we took advantage of our local library.  We found some fun books like "Leaving China:  An Artists Paints His World War II Childhood" by James McMullan and "Building the Great Wall of China:  An Interactive Engineering Adventure (You Choose Engineering Marvels)"

By far, our favorite books were the cookbooks:  "The Food of China" by Tamra Orr and "The Cooking of China" by Matthew Locricchio.  Katherine chose five recipes (she has been working to hone her kitchen skills!) and started cooking her feast at 2:00 p.m. so it would all be ready in time for supper.  She did almost all of the work herself, and it was a very late meal by the time every dish was ready, but so worth it!  My favorite recipes were Velvet Corn Soup (Yu Mi Geng) and Lion's Head (Shi Zi Tou).

Velvet Corn Soup (Yu Mi Geng) from "The Cooking of China" 
Serves 4 to 6

1 medium size boneless skinless chicken breast (about 4 ounces)
1/4 pound smoked ham or Smithfield ham
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups creamed corn
4 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon cornstarch, mixed with 2 tablespoons water
2 green onions, finely chopped

Place the chicken breast in the freezer for 20 to 30 minutes.  Partially freezing it will make it easier to cut.  Slice the ham into long strips, then into 1/2-inch cubes, and refrigerate.  Slice the chicken into long strips, then into cubes slightly larger than the ham.  Using an electric hand mixer, beat the egg whites until they are almost stiff.  Add the chicken cubes and salt to the egg whites and refrigerate.  Wash the beaters of the hand mixer.  Beat the creamed corn with the electric mixer for about 30 seconds, or until smooth.  

Aaron helping assemble the egg rolls

In a 4-quart pot, bring the chicken stock to a boil.  Line up these ingredients on your countertop:  chicken mixture, creamed corn, cornstarch mixture, ham cubes, green onions.  Add the chicken mixture and creamed corn to the chicken stock.  Slowly bring the soup back to a boil.  This will take 2 to 3 minutes.  Stir the cornstarch and water mixture to recombine.  When the soup boils, stir in the cornstarch mixture.  Add the ham cubes and cook for another minute, stirring, to finish the soup.  Serve hot, with the chopped green onions sprinkled on top, and pass the soy sauce at the table.

Lion's Head (Shi Zi Tou) from "The Cooking of China"
Serves 4

6 green onions (scallions)
1 inch thick slice of ginger
1 pound ground pork
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 large egg
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 medium size head of boy choy, or Chinese or napa cabbage
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons peanut or canola oil

Wash the green onions.  Remove the root end and any dark leaves.  Finely chop them, both the white part and about 3 to 4 inches of the green sections, into small pieces and add to a large bowl.  Peel the skin from the ginger.  Cut the ginger into thin slices, stack the slices on top of each other and slice them into strips.  Finely mince the ginger strips and add them to the bowl along with the green onions.

Add the ground pork to the bowl, with the cornstarch, egg, rice wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sesame oil, salt, and pepper.  Using your very clean hands or a large spoon, mix the ingredients together until combined.  Shape into four meatballs and lay them on a clean plate.  Wash your hands with lots of warm soapy water and dry.  Lightly cover the meatballs with wax paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate.


Cut off the root end of the bok choy and discard.  Wash the stalks under cold water to remove any dirt.  Separate the stalks, lay them on a cutting board, and cut each one in half, lengthwise.  Slice the stalks crosswise into 3- or 4- inch pieces.  Continue with the rest of the bok choy.  You will need about 4 cups of sliced bok choy or cabbage.  In a wok or 12-inch frying pan or skillet, heat the canola oil over medium heat until hot but not smoking.  If using a wok, brown the meatballs one at a time for 2 to 3 minutes on each side until they are lightly browned and crispy.  If using a frying pan or skillet, brown the meatballs, two at the same time until they are lightly browned and crispy.  Remove the browned meatballs to a clean plate.

Lay 2 cups of the sliced bok choy in the bottom of a 3- to 4- quart heavy-bottomed heatproof covered pot or casserole, with a lid.  Place the browned meatballs on top of the bok choy.  Cover the meatballs with the remaining bok choy.  Add the remaining tablespoon of soy sauce to the chicken stock and stir to combine.  Carefully pour the stock and soy combination into the pan.  Bring the pan to a boil over medium-high heat.  This will take 3 to 4 minutes.  Once it boils, cover the pan with the lid slightly ajar, reduce the heat to low, and simmer to 50 minutes.  After 25 minutes baste the bok choy with some of the cooking liquid.  To serve, place the meatballs in a serving blow with some of the bok choy leaves, and some of the cooking liquid spooned over the top.  Serve hot.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Mid-Week Miscelleny

It's only Wednesday, yet we've packed a lot of fun and work and school and memories into the last few days!  The highlight was picking up Aaron from the airport (only delayed by 22 hours).

We celebrated National Playdough Day both with our college kids via technology,

and at home with the younger two.  Something about making, creating with, and eating peanut butter playdough just makes me happy!

Aaron always seems to defy jetlag, he and Katherine walked over to enjoy the beautiful day while watching the county fair parade yesterday afternoon.  These two peas in a pod saw lots of people they knew and cheered on our community members streaming by.