Monday, February 25, 2013

Still Surrounded

God continues to surprise and amaze and surround me by His love.  After almost four solid days of the Global Impact Celebration, I discovered I knew one of the other missionaries!  It didn't take long before we were asking about each other's families and feeling like we had walked into a family reunion.

Last night's service began with our hand bell choir playing "Here Am I, Lord".  Aaron and I love having the opportunity to participate with this group.  We can't do this in the Solomon Islands.
Then the youth choir (including Sarah) led us in worship and prepared our hearts for
 an encouraging (and funny) interview of one of our own church members who just radiates with God's love and another encouraging and convicting sermon.
But the best part of the night for me?  The invitation.  The missionaries had been asked to line up to be able to counsel anyone who might come down.  It's still awkward to me to be set apart as a missionary, and I was really exhausted, but I was willing to stand up front.  After a few minutes, I felt a tug at my arm and turned to find two precious ninth grade girls at my elbow.  I asked what I could for them and their answer reduced me to tears.  "We just want to know how we can be praying for you."  Wow.  Definitely still surrounded.

Sunday, February 24, 2013


"We are surrounded by the walls of God's salvation....You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!  Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock....
our heart's desire is to glorify your name." 
from Isaiah 26

The last few days have found us surrounded.  Surrounded by amazing people who serve the Lord around the globe in many different ways.  Surrounded by encouragers and prayer partners in our church.

Surrounded by stories of God's love and faithfulness everywhere.  Surrounded by scripture that convicts and worship that draws us into God's presence.

We are supposed to be sharing about the ways we get to serve the Lavukal and the people of the Solomon Islands, but we're finding that we are learning so much in the divine appointments God had already set up.  We are supposed to be pouring out to this church, but we find ourselves being filled back up.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Texas Woman's Daybook

Just for today...Tuesday, February 19
Outside my window...the ladybugs are out in the back yard.  I think spring is on its way.
I am hearing..."I come broken to be mended, I come wounded to be healed, I come desperate to be rescued, I come empty to be filled", but just inside my own head.  Love this twist on an old hymn, and since I'm feeling pretty worn out after our trip, the lyrics describe me perfectly.  Okay, they describe me perfectly every day.
Praying kids.  Everyone is out of sorts from the trip and returning to "real life" has led to some tears and unkind words today (Mama included). 

On my bookshelf..."The Poker Bride:  The First Chinese in the Wild West" by Christopher Corbett.  A fascinating complement to our history studies.  Unfortunately, I left a bag in Kansas City, and it had the book inside, so I'm having to wait for the box my amazing sister mailed to me.
Noticing that...bifocals aren't as bad as everybody says they are!
One of my favorite things...the small hallway in my sister's house.  We all added our handprints last week to the many prints of friends and family already on the walls.

A heart of thankfulness...for all of the amazing people who made time to spend with us last week.  God has placed "tons" (as Katherine would say) of people in our lives, and we have so much to learn from them.
I am creating...table displays and "lectures" about the Solomon Islands to share this weekend
Pondering these words..."God is the only real remedy for our unhappiness, and he knows that the things to which we cling for comfort are actually robbing us of blessing....God always works to free us from the tactics we use to avoid dealing with hard things."  ~ Lydia Brownback
From the kitchen...quiche this morning for breakfast, cream of broccoli soup and "toasty cheese" for lunch, and apple pork chops, spinach soufflĂ©, harvest vegetable medly, cloverleaf rolls, and a cherry cheesecake roll for supper.  It's nice to be home and cook again, and I have a great kitchen staff to work with me at the Choate Bed and Breakfast.
From the learning rooms...composer Johannes Brahms.  Be still my heart.  And Harriet Beecher Stowe along with the Crimean War, but Brahms is way more fun.  Also some fun experiments with how much room hot water takes up vs. cold water and dissolving chicken bones in vinegar.  The kids get Friday off.

A few plans for the rest of the week...our church's missions conference begins Thursday and runs through Sunday.  We're so excited that we get to participate this year!
A peek into my corner of the impromptu trip to the Dallas Zoo yesterday.
Being friends with colleagues blesses our family!

Saturday evening, we arrived in Tulsa to stay with this very brave family.  With nine kids ranging from ages five to seventeen plus four adults, the Chew's beautiful house was full of the sounds of laughter and the smells of good food to feed the crowd.  We enjoyed going to church with them at Tulsa Bible Church and the time to get to know them better.   An e-mail from this sweet friend always arrived at the right time when we were in the village, and we are so thankful for their prayers, encouragement, and support as we serve the Lavukal in the Solomon Islands.

Monday, February 18, 2013


Late Friday night, our friends, the Conards, joined us in Wichita.  This family fills many roles in our lives. 

Since we met in 2004 (with a lot fewer kids!), they have encouraged us with their generous hearts and listening ears.  Their thoughtfulness shows up exactly when and exactly in the form in which we need it.

They not only partner with us to serve the Lavukal, but they make sure we stay encouraged through e-mails and care packages when we live in the Solomon Islands.

They are true co-laborers in Christ. "God's bright presence" shines in their lives, and He gets all the credit.

Everything in the world is about to be wrapped up, so take nothing for granted. Stay wide-awake in prayer. Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless – cheerfully. Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God's words; if help, let it be God's hearty help. That way, God's bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he'll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything – encores to the end of time. Oh, yes!” (I Peter 4:7-10 MSG)


Last Thursday night, we pulled into Kansas City and got to spend a few minutes with my sister who had a 15-minute break from work.  I'll take a "drive-by" visit any day because it means I'm close!

Friday, February 15, 2013

We love the Bibleless Peoples Prayer Project.  If you are on Facebook, you can "like" them and receive updates (like their gumball ceremonies).  Thursday, we had the honor of meeting somebody who has been praying for the Lavukal since 1992.  We stopped in Des Moines for some delicious Thai food in a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant and enjoyed sweet fellowship with this retired linguistics professor who plays the violin and viola.  Think these two have anything in common?!?


Our last day in the Twin Cities we drove over to the Mill City Museum. Wow - we learned so much!

I had never heard of Saint Anthony Falls, and I had no idea that Minneapolis used to churn out so much flour.

We got to sift flour through progressively finer mesh screens,



and we checked out the test kitchen.

Lots of great hands on activities kept kids and adults fascinated and learning for hours.  (The museum really didn't pay me to write a review, we just had a great time!)

We finished a great day by adventure eating delicious Ethiopian food at the Blue Nile Restaurant.  Yum!

One of the unexpected treats of our trip was reconnecting with a friend from high school.  We hadn't seen him in over twenty years, and he even brought along his beautiful wife for us to meet.  My sister graciously opened up her home, and we all stayed up late Monday night getting reacquainted.





 Tuesday, we enjoyed the amusement rides inside the Mall of America.  My sister and I are both fans of roller coasters, and Sarah is quickly learning to enjoy them alongside us.

 Aunt Melissa is also training Olivia to appreciate roller coasters, but Olivia prefers to stay right side up.
Aaron is a fabulous uncle and took my nephew on several rides.

Life isn't all fun and games, though.  Food still has to be prepared, and the Choate kitchen crew all pitched in to help.

Everyone in my sister's family is a bibliophile, too.  So we read lots of books (and got lots of snuggles) together.

Road Trip with SNOW

The main reason we planned this trip in February was because we wanted to enjoy snow and cold temperatures.  My sister took us to the beautiful Minnehaha Falls and the icy Mississippi River.

One of my favorite cookbooks, "The Great Scandinavian Baking Book", references Ingrebretsen's, and I finally got to go see all of the beautiful books, dishes, foods, and needlework inside.  I even grabbed a new cookbook as a souvenir, "The Great Holiday Baking Book" by the same author.

After lunch, we bundled up and hit the slopes for sledding.  My tropical kids have never experienced anything like this, and we couldn't have asked for better weather or a more perfect park with gentle hills.

Aaron and I even loaded up on the sled together a couple of times!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Road Trip

Our February 2013 Road Trip began last Saturday with a drive up from Dallas to Kansas City where we met one of my sisters for a quick bit of supper at Arthur Bryant's Barbeque.

Our visit was short but sweet.  Being only a day's drive from family still feels a little bit funny.

We don't take all of these hugs and smiles for granted!
Next stop, Minnesota's Twin Cities...