Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Minneola, Kansas

Friday night, we pulled into our friends' driveway in windy Minneola, Kansas.  It didn't take long for everybody to be hugging necks, visiting, playing games, and making music together.


Saturday morning, we started getting ready for the houseful of company that was going to be coming and going all day long. 

For the guys, that meant playing football while the meat smoked in preparation for supper.

And the girls worked to get lunch ready for this hungry, sweet, rowdy crew.

This precious family has a load of chickens.  And those chickens' eggs singlehandedly support the Lavukaleve translation project.  Let me tell you, we pray for those chickens.

Those eggs pay for the gasoline that our translation team uses to get together.  The eggs pay for printing copies of whatever the team translates.  If money is there for anything those amazing Lavukal translators do, it's because chickens are laying eggs.  And the small boys who own the chickens are generously giving to support Bible translation on the other side of the world.

I don't know the last time we were able to get a picture with every member of both the Choate and the Conard families in it, but since we had some extra hands, we took the opportunity for everybody to be included in the photo.

After lunch, some of us went back to making music,
 some of us went back to cooking

sweet potato pies (three different recipes!),

and some of us went back to playing outside.

I'm so grateful that these kids treat us as if we really were part of their family.  They let us scoop them up and give them big hugs in a big, crazy, trusting kind of way which isn't common.  Especially considering we only see this sweet family only occasionally.  In fact, we hadn't seen Shawn since we left to go back to the Solomon Islands in 2013.

The supper guests began trickling in early enough to join in the football game.

The house was full of children.  Eighteen to be exact.  And ten adults, too.  It was loud, full of life, and lovely.

When the guests left, the remaining children snuggled down to read and get ready for bed.

Sunday morning, Minneola United Methodist Church invited us to share with them again.

They've been an encouragement to us during our time serving in the Solomon Islands,

and it's always fun to go back and see familiar faces and catch up with people.


After a potluck Thanksgiving lunch, Gayly took our family out for a photo shoot.  I think we could make a stand up comedy routine.  What a gift she gave us with her knowledge and camera and time and energy.
We finished the day by playing together.  What joy!
And these guys.  Involved daddies.  Loving husbands.  Running around the playground playing tag until everybody was out of breath and rosy cheeked.


The sun was creating its golden hour, when everybody shines with that beautiful light and life seems a little bit sweeter.

I can't imagine a more perfect way to end the day.

Except going home to drink hot chocolate and snuggle with the dog.

Eating broccoli two-fisted is high on the list of ways to end the perfect day, too.

As is snuggling with your buddy while she reads a book to you.

Monday morning (and real life) came too soon, and as we started to pull out of the driveway, the moms realized we never got that picture together.  The nice cameras were packed up, so a phone selfie helped us capture the friendship that we share.  We left feeling encouraged and loved, with hearts expanded and souls strengthened to do whatever God calls us to do.  Thank you, faithful friends.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Epic Picture Fail?

Nope.  Just capturing sweet family memories.  Thanks, Gayly, for attempting to take family pictures while we visited you this weekend!

Friday, November 20, 2015


With the jet stream dipping way down south this weekend, we're going to get our first freeze.  Sarah picked all of the green tomatoes yesterday and lined them up on the windowsill in hopes that some of them will ripen. 
Our book basket currently holds books about what animals do in the winter, and many of them hibernate.  In the cold weather, I feel like brewing a fresh press of coffee and curling up with a quilt and a good book to hibernate!
"Under the Snow" by Melissa Stewart
"Grandmother Winter" by Phyllis Root
"Hibernation Station" by Michelle Meadows
"Time to Sleep" by Denise Fleming
"Chipmunk at Hollow Tree Lane" by Victoria Sherrow
"Over and Under the Snow" by Kate Messner

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Jonesboro, Arkansas

Yesterday, we spent the day in Northeast Arkansas visiting with Aaron's grandparents.  In our many travels around the country, we had let too much time elapse since the last time we saw them.  We're grateful that most of our parents and grandparents still drive themselves all over the place, but this set of family no longer has the mobility to come visit us.

We ate lunch with Aaron's grandmother, then our kids practiced their Christmas recital pieces on the piano at the retirement center.  Their first recital is coming up soon, and a little practice at being in front of people is a very good thing.
The kids also took turns recording the music so that when we went to see Aaron's grandfather in the nursing home, Pop could watch the performances, too. 
Good-byes are always hard.  After sixty-seven years of marriage, a goodbye kiss is still a very good thing.  Gran is the picture of grace and strength as she reminds Pop why she can't stay with him in his room at the nursing home and that he is ninety-one years old, not eighty-five like he thought.  Sweet time together is such a gift from the Lord, even when the time together is a little bittersweet.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


The rain outside is blowing against the windows as this powerful line of storms muscles its way through our area.  It's nice to be home for a few days.

Being home means I got to scrub the pink mold of my neglected shower.  That made me feel really good!

And when our washing machine quit working over the weekend, we were home and available for the repair guy to come fix both the washer and the dryer.  I'm so grateful for people who do their jobs well, no matter whether the job is seen by others or hidden to the public eye.
 I've also enjoyed being home to watch my morning glories shine.  They took a long time to get going, but once they finally started blooming, they've been so fun to watch.
Over the weekend, we stayed close to home and visited with Old Liberty Baptist Church just down the road.
My dad came to the evening services, another perk to staying close to home!  And even though my grandmother fed us lunch at her house after church on Sunday morning, she still wouldn't let me take any pictures of her.
I had forgotten how much I love hearing Aaron preach.  He really has a teacher's heart and a passion for God's Word.
Being home also means that my mama's cream of potato soup recipe fits the need for comfort food on a cool, rainy day.  Thank you, Lord, for a place to call home for this season of our lives.