Friday, March 29, 2013

Hot Cross Buns

1 package dry yeast (2 ¾ tsp)
In ¼ cup warm water
Set aside. In large saucepan, heat until almost boiling (small bubbles will appear on sides of pan):
1 cup milk
Remove from heat: Add:
1 stick butter or margarine (can cut in pieces) and stir till it melts.
½ cup sugar
1 ½ tsp salt
Combine yeast mixture with milk mixture once the milk has cooled. Add:
3 beaten eggs

Stir in:
4 ¾ cups flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp grated lemon peel
Stir until dough is smooth. (Note: dough will be very sticky; no need to add extra flour.) Add:
1 cup raisins, if desired
Cover pan with damp towel and let rise in a warm place until double. When double, stir down. Turn dough onto a floured board. Shape into balls the size of eggs. Place on greased cookie sheet, two to three inches apart, and let rise until almost double again.
Brush tops with:
1 beaten egg white
Bake at 375 degrees twelve to fifteen minutes, until nicely browned. When cool, pipe frosting across the top in shape of a cross. Makes twenty-four.

In medium bowl, stir together:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbsp melted butter or margarine
½ tsp lemon or orange extract
enough hot water to make desired consistency (probably 1-2 Tbsp)
Pipe a cross on each bun; with leftover icing, pipe a circle or two around each cross. Use all the frosting, especially if you've omitted raisins, because the buns benefit from the added sweetness. (If you don't own a pastry bag, plop the frosting into your sturdiest plastic storage bag, then place the bag into another sturdy plastic storage bag; snip off the corner and pipe away.)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

This morning, I took the kids to enjoy one of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra's fabulous youth concerts.  As always, we reveled in the world of music this country has to offer.

But after a very busy week, we are really ready to slow down and focus on the events of Maundy Thursday through Easter.  In just a few minutes, we'll be headed out the door for a performance of potions of Handel's Messiah to help us begin the process of reflection...
"But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healedWe all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all."   Isaiah 53:5,6

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


I've been thinking about that "investing" quote I recently found: 
"Investing in God and in people is to invest in happiness, because investing is what God has designed us for and called us to."
 ~Lydia Brownback

It's got me pondering the ways in which I invest my time and energy, and how I'm encouraging my kids to spend their time and energy.  Just before noon yesterday, our whole family drove up to the Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics to hear Dr. Will McClatchey speak about ethno-botany.

His lecture fascinated us and challenged us to ponder the ways that the Lavukal think and how they label the world around them.  Dr. McClatchey has visited the Solomon Islands and collected  much of his data from a large island west of our village.

I was super proud of my kids, too, as they finished up their school work quietly in the floor.

After the lecture, we drove to help friends load up suitcases and boxes in preparation for their departure for the Solomon Islands.  We will certainly miss them, but we plan to see them again in August when we return to Honiara.

Aren't these ladies absolutely lovely?  They are quite the mother/daughter team!

After we waved goodbye, we went home to make Easter basket cupcakes.  We only get to make them in the Solomons if somebody sends jellybeans in a care package, so it was an extra treat to make them so easily here.  We also put together packets of jellybeans with copies of "God's Jelly Bean Rainbow" poem inside:
God’s Jelly Bean Rainbow
Orange is the twilight night He prayed.
Black is our sin stain for which He paid.
Red is His own shed blood so bright.
Yellow is the Son’s warm, healing light.
Purple is His head crowned with thorns.
Pink is hope risen on Easter morn.
Brown is the ground where He was laid.
Gray is the stone that was rolled away.
White is God’s grace we freely receive.
Green our eternal life when we believe.
All of these colors represent something true:
Jesus Christ, God’s own Son, died for me
and died for you.
Then we drove over to share supper with some crazy friends.  Crazy because they are moving this week, but they still invited us over to eat with them!  The meal provided a encouraging time of laughing, telling stories, and enjoying good food.  We're so grateful for the opportunities God gives us for investing and for the people that choose to invest in us.


Monday, March 25, 2013

Texas Woman's Daybook

Just for today...Monday, March 25
Outside my window...we had a freeze early this morning, and we're supposed to have another one tomorrow.  Hope the peach blossoms are okay.
On my bookshelf..."Heralds of Spring in Texas" by Roland H. Wauer.  Have I mentioned how much I LOVE the changing of seasons?!?
Noticing that...when I remind myself of all of the good things God gives me, I am much more content.  And the coffee in the cup is a bonus. 
A heart of thankfulness...for laughter.
Pondering these words... "Investing in God and in people is to invest in happiness, because investing is what God has designed us for and called us to."  ~Lydia Brownback 
"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it:  You shall love your neighbor as yourself..."  Matthew 22:37-40
From the kitchen...I drove down to Scasta Farm this morning and picked up two dozen eggs along with a pound of spinach.  Yum!  Hoping to go visit on a field trip soon.  But tonight we'll be enjoying orange pork chops, gingered butternut squash, and a salad before we take the kids to choir rehearsal.
From the learning rooms...we began our last nine weeks today!  So proud of my kids for staying on top of school with all of the "van-school".
A few plans for the rest of the week...lots of coming and going.  An ethno-botanist will be speaking at Aaron's school tomorrow, and he has conducted research in the Solomon Islands, so we will go to hear him.  Our good friends are leaving for the Solomons tomorrow afternoon, and necks need to be hugged one more time.  Wednesday afternoon, we will meet with our co-coordinators for SITAG's 2013 Conference to hammer out some details. Thursday I'll take the kids to the Dallas Symphony's children's concert in the morning, and then the whole family will attend Dallas Baptist University's performance of Messiah in the evening.  Not exactly the Holy Week I had in mind, but I'm so thankful for the opportunities to invest in God and people.
A peek into my corner of the world...lunch today with two sets of Solomon Islands' colleagues.  One family came in last night, the other family is leaving tomorrow.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

"I will exalt you, my God and King, and praise your name forever and ever.  I will praise you every day; yes, I will praise you forever.  Great is the Lord!  He is most worthy of praise!  No one can measure his greatness.  Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts; let them proclaim your power.  I will meditate on your majestic, glorious splendor and your wonderful miracles.  Your awe-inspiring deeds will be on every tongue; I will proclaim your greatness."  Psalm 145:1-6
In my Lenten devotional book, I learned that the practice of reading Psalm 145 three times a day developed very early among the Jews.  "It is not hard to understand how the consistent praise of God shaped the lives of God's people and has the power to do the same thing for us today."  I like that idea, and it may become a new tradition at our house.
Proclaiming His greatness for:

-going out to walk and being surprised by an old wisteria vine around the corner just beginning to bloom
-celebrating twenty-three years of holding Aaron's hand.  It's our "hand-holding-versary" today!

-a sweet piano teacher who let us celebrate her birthday belatedly
-sharing a music stand with Aaron again as we play our cellos in "Savior" tonight at church.  If you live in the Dallas area, we invite you to come worship with us at 6!

-friends, no matter which side of the Pacific Ocean
-a crockpot to make the house smell good when we come in the door after church and to provide yummy food quickly for our rumbling tummies

-sweet five-year-old hands holding the fruit of the vine and the bread for the very first time this morning
-SITAG colleagues/friends moving into town today, just in time to help soothe our hearts for the other set that is leaving

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Helping Hands

 We woke up this morning to the sound of pea-size hail hitting the roof.  Believe it or not, I've really missed thunderstorms and the predictable way that cold fronts move from west to east this time of year.  We don't get thunderstorms over in the Solomon Islands.  Instead, we birth hurricanes with lots of prolonged wind and rain.
Our church planned to sponsor an Easter Egg Hunt for the neighborhood, but the weather cancelled the event.  So, our family brewed another pot of coffee (Guatemala Casi Cielo, my current favorite!) and made coffee glazed chocolate chip scones for breakfast.  After we spent a couple of hours in the kitchen cooking ahead for the next few very busy days, we headed out to do a couple of errands and to spend the rest of the afternoon helping our SITAG colleagues move out.

Moving is so hard - physically, mentally, emotionally.  I love watching the body of Christ come together to encourage and support and work shoulder to shoulder.

We've worked side by side with this family so many times packing and cleaning, seeing the dirty "real" of life, and saying temporary goodbyes.  One day, we'll all be in heaven together and won't have to say goodbye anymore.  So thankful God put them in our lives to laugh and cry and share life together.

Friday, March 22, 2013

SITAG Ladies

The sky was still dark when I left the house this morning.  My heart was happy to drive to the "golden arches" to meet this amazing group of ladies:

They represent SITAG (Solomon Islands Translation Advisory Group), past and present.  So, over cups of coffee and Egg Mcmuffins, I listened to stories of God's faithfulness.  From the government coup in 2000 and the subsequent evacuation to Australia, all the way up to what He is doing in our lives this week, I heard story after story from these tender hearts who have given chunks of their lives towards Bible translation in the Solomon Islands.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Lemon-Ginger Pound Cake
from "The Great Holiday Baking Book" by Beatrice Ojakangas"
(found in the "Baking for the Easter Season" section)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
grated zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
Lemon Glaze
1/4 confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour an 8x4x3-inch loaf pan.  In a medium bowl, stir the flour, baking powder, and salt together.  In a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until smooth.  Add the eggs one at a time and beat at high speed until light and fluffy, scraping the bowl often.
Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk, beating at low speed until well blended.  Mix I the lemon zest and ginger.  Pour into the prepared pan.  Bake for 60 to 65 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted into the loaf comes out clean. (We had to cover the top with foil and add quite an extra bit of baking time.)  Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack.
To glaze, mix the confectioners' sugar with lemon juice until blended and brush over the top of the warm cake. 
Makes 1 loaf cake, about 12 slices
This cake doesn't last long around our house!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Texas Woman's Daybook

Just for today...Tuesday, March 19
Outside my window...peach trees blooming on the church's property
I am hearing...Casting Crowns in the background while my kitchen crew sets the table for supper.
Noticing that...I function so much better when I am well rested.  After we got home from our road trip Sunday night, I slept for eleven hours.  Yesterday, I had so much more energy than usual!
Something I want to remember for later...all four of my kids helping fix breakfast with my mom last week.

A heart of thankfulness...for the 3007 miles of Road Trip March 2013.  Especially for all the people who prayed for us or made time to spend with us.  The kids didn't miss a beat with school, we shared with many people about Bible translation in the Solomon Islands, and we got to hug lots of familiar and precious necks along the way.
Pondering these words...
"Your arm has safely brought us through
A way no more expected,
Than when your sheep
Passed through the deep.
By crystal walls protected.
Your glory was our strength and shield,
Your hand our lives did cover,
And we, e'en we
Have walked the sea,
And marched triumphant over."
~Charles Wesley
From the kitchen...Aaron always teases me because as soon as we get home from a big trip, I jump into cooking with a vengeance.  I love nurturing my family with beautiful, yummy, and nutritious food.  Tonight, in honor of St. Joseph's Day and the installation of a new pope, we're having stuffed Italian bread from the "Great Holiday Baking Book" and lemon ginger pound cake that Sarah made this afternoon.
From the learning rooms...after taking yesterday off to catch up around the house, Sarah is challenging us with inequalities and radicals in algebra, Katherine is learning how to tell time, and we are discovering the 1870's in history with all of its uprisings and land changing hands
A few plans for the rest of the week...within the next week we know two families who will be moving away and one family moving here, so we'll enjoy helping provide meals and loading boxes and cleaning and whatever they need.  Aaron and I are also playing our cellos for the musical "Savior" this weekend at church, and we have rehearsal Friday night.  Oh, and there is an Easter Egg outreach with our church on Saturday.  More activities than I realized!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Carlisle, Arkansas

We finished up our March 2013 Road Trip with a visit to a couple of my "bachelor" cousins who opened up their home for our family.  The competition on the basketball court was fierce,

but at least they had a great cheerleader.

We laughed and played until the sun went down and it was time to go in and get ready for church the next day.  Then we laughed and played some more inside.
Pleasant Grove Baptist Church invited us to come back and share with them about Bible translation with the Lavukal, and we were excited to come back and worship with them again.

This church has encouraged and supported us from the very beginning of our service with Wycliffe.  We are so thankful for them.  And they sure know how to put together a potluck that will knock your socks off!

I love watching our kids reconnect with family, and I think they would have smuggled either one of these cousins in the vehicle to come home with us.  Thanks, guys, for opening up the Schalchlin Bed and Breakfast!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Wye Mountain Daffodil Festival

 Exulting in Spring and daffodils today with my grandparents, parents, and brother at Wye Mountain Daffodil Festival in Arkansas.