Sunday, May 31, 2015

Anniversary Celebrations

My parents celebrated forty-four years of marriage today.  And I got to be here to celebrate with them.  After church, my youngest brother and my parents came over to our house to eat lunch together.  It makes me so happy to be in the same town for days like today.

As we were pulling out dessert, one of my brother's friends dropped by.  He's one of my kids' favorite buddies, so the yard games came out.  There was lots of laughter!

Thank you, Lord, for sweet everyday things like meals and games together.  Living far away overseas has taught us not to take those gifts for granted.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Strawberry Jam

My mom took the kids strawberry picking on Thursday.  When she asked how many I wanted, I told her, "As much as you can pick!"  Strawberries are a treat for our family, since they won't grow in the tropics, and we enjoy eating them in all kinds of ways.

I didn't anticipate my hard working kids to pick 51 pounds of strawberries.  That's a lot of strawberry jam!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Drip, drip, drip...


The first morning after we returned from our road trip, I sat outside my back door listening to the remnants of last night's rain drip from the eaves.  May in central Arkansas has been more cool and rainy than I ever remember.  Bible in one hand, cup of coffee in the other, I watched a rabbit hop across the yard and listened to robins chirp.  Drip, drip, drip...the rain continued dripping from the trees as God's Word dripped into my heart.  I thought about the children of Israel and what God told them when they were preparing to go into the promised land:
"When the Lord Your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you - a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant - then when you eat are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery."  Deuteronomy 6:10-12
I was refilling my heart in a beautiful backyard that my hands did not plant and living in a house that our sweet renters had worked hard to repair.

We thought this potted gardenia plant had died.  It was brown and crispy and lifeless.  But while we were on the road visiting our friend Mike and his precious family, we got tons of rain and this little gardenia decided to sprout tiny new green leaves.  I now call this plant Lazarus.  It's a good reminder to me.  I've been feeling pretty crispy and lifeless during the last several months of transition.  I need to fill up, and sitting in the back yard early every morning reading God's Word while the sun comes up is one of the ways I plan to refill.  Our family will be putting some routine back into our lives very soon, preparing avenues for emotional, spiritual, mental, and physical refueling.
The same morning, my grandmother came over for a birthday brunch.  Our birthdays are only a few days apart, and we were out of state on her special day.  So, she joined me for a "May Birthday Girl" celebration.

After breakfast (so thankful we made several quiches and stuck them in the freezer before we left), we sat and shared storied of God's faithfulness over the years.  Some of the stories were about my grandfather, some were about God's provision of finances, some were about seeing His hand work in circumstances when we turned around and looked back.   Drip, drip, drip...

I found my soul continuing to fill up.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Albany, Georgia


Working in full-time ministry, we've gotten to meet and serve alongside so many fabulous people.  We've known this crew since Aaron and I both taught orchestra in the public schools in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.

This spunky family defies description. 

We just love the way God made each one of them,

we love their hearts for Jesus,

we love going to church with them (church in my heart language - may it never grow old!),

Last stop on our impromptu road trip before we head back home! 

Metter, Georgia

We stopped to visit some former colleagues who have finished translating the New Testament and now own a beautiful RV and camping park in southeast Georgia near Savannah.  The place was so lovely that we would stop there even if our friends didn't own it!

Our kids really enjoyed helping milk the goats,

reading books and snuggling together,


powering the paddle boats around the lake,

learning to drive the golf carts,

playing Frisbee golf,

and just catching up with each other.

Our time with this family is always so sweet and refreshing.

They help me in my quest to be a life long learner because they are always reading new books and learning new things and they are happy to share their knowledge.

Their whole family is a joy to be around.

I love how the Lord continues to bind our hearts together
no matter which side of the Pacific we find ourselves.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Jacksonville, Florida


We were so excited to get to spend some time with Aaron's brother and sister-in-law again!

They were super gracious and allowed us to invite some high school friends and their kids. 
Everybody had a blast and stayed up way too late playing and laughing and talking and enjoying a little early surprise birthday celebration for me.

We're so thankful that we get to hang out with such neat people!  Even though I don't like moving around and would prefer to stay in one place all of the time, God has enriched our lives through the people He has brought across our paths.

Bunnell, Florida

When our plans changed at the last minute, sweet Lisa agreed to host our family for a quick lunch stop on the way to visit Aaron's brother.

So thankful for her flexibility and her willingness to open up her home to our family again.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Michael Alan Loomis
March 15, 1975 - May 26, 2015

Mike loved Jesus, eating ice cream, laughing a lot, spending time with his family, and making music.  We are forever grateful for the time God allowed us to spend with him.

DeLand, Florida

Can't stop in DeLand without stopping by Rodeo Whip for some delicious ice cream.

We can chart our children's growth by our pictures with the Rodeo Whip sign!

And somebody always has to get the "Garbage Pail" ice cream - chock full of every kind of chocolate candy known to man.


My flavor of choice for the last twenty years?   Peanut Butter Fudge Crunch.

After ice cream, we swung by our alma mater, Stetson University.

When we stepped into the school of music, it didn't take us long to find somebody we knew.  God brought along a friend who went to school with us, and we were able to chat for a few minutes.

We also bought a CD by one of our favorite voice professors, and Aaron swung by our cello professor's office, even though we knew he was out of town.

Then it was off to see this sweet couple who have loved us like their own kids and grandkids.

We made our traditional breakfast of waffles,

and the kids took turns
playing on the beautiful organ,
and the piano.

We're so grateful for the very quick visit and for Gran Mollie and Grandpa T who welcomed our noise and chaos into their home once again.