Friday, June 30, 2017

Shakespeare Summer

Shakespeare Summer is a blast!  I love watching the kids delight in the discovery.  Inspired by Purcell's "The Fairy Queen" (which was inspired by Shakespeare's "Midsummer Night's Dream"), I've become the "Fairy Queen" around our house.

One of the gifts the Fairy Queen left for the AMAZING puzzle based on a National Geographic map of Shakespeare's Britain.  (DJ got on a little puzzle binge and completed a massive amount while she was visiting.  Who knew she was such a competent puzzler?)

The Fairy Queen also gives things that aren't related to Shakespeare, like a basketball, but my favorite things enhance our summer of steeping in Shakespeare.  Katherine and Olivia have especially enjoyed the paper dolls of great characters from Shakespeare.

But there is nothing like going to see a live play, even if it has been a little bit adapted for today's audience.  We are soaking up every opportunity while we were are here in America and loving it.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

I wish they all could be California Girls, Part 2

As part of our Shakespeare Summer, we took DJ to a hilarious outdoor rendition of "Love's Labour's Lost".  The Arkansas Shakespeare Theater always puts on a fabulous show.  (I love DJ's grin!)

Monday morning, we were off bright and early, with thermoses of coffee in hand, headed to the Crater of Diamonds State Park.

Even though we are Arkansas born and bred, none of us had ever been digging for diamonds.  I'm glad DJ wanted to go!

After a morning of getting dirty, having a lot of fun, and finding nothing but a few flakes of mica and quartz, we drove up to Hot Springs' Bath House Row.

I should have warned DJ that we were history nerds and read all of the signs.

She dug up the Hot Springs Historic Baseball Trail, and we were hooked!

While we were in the parking lot looking at the home plate from which Babe Ruth hit the historic home run

and the memorial sign,

a guy getting off work noticed us and pointed up into the bushes a little way to show us the original bleachers from Whittington Park.  It was day full of discovery!

We finished our time together by making delicious peach jam before we loaded up DJ and her suitcase and took her back to the airport.  I'm still a little bit in awe that she would make the trip to hang out with our crazy crew for a few days, and we're looking forward to the next time our paths cross.

I wish they all could be California girls...

A week ago today, we picked up a joyful friend from California.  We met DJ a year ago in the Solomon Islands when she came to help with the Culture Meets Scripture workshop.  We hit it off from day one.

DJ just folded into our family so easily.  We drug her to a tour of Central High School, where the desegregation crisis erupted with the Little Rock Nine in 1957.

One of family's favorite places to visit is a local orchard.  Blackberries and peaches are ripe right now in central Arkansas.

This was DJ's first time to be so close to the food she eats.  We came home with sixty pounds of peaches, twenty pounds of blackberries, and visions of recipes dancing in our heads.

Because we're both curly tops, people kept asking us if we were sisters.  DJ is the same age as my youngest brother, so it felt like I had adopted a sister for the week!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Father's Day

When we move back to America, we get to live only a few minutes away from so many of our family members!  On Father's Day, we attended church with Aaron's side of the family and then enjoyed their company for lunch.

My parents joined us for supper that night.  It was a double Father's Day celebration!

The Monday morning after Father's Day, we drove over to visit with Aaron's dad and mom #2.  One of the highlights of that trip was looking through Aaron's grandfather's mementos of WWII.  I wish he was still around to talk about his experiences in the Philippines so many years ago.  

On the way home Tuesday afternoon, we walked out of the restaurant to discover that the van had a very flat tire.  So our drivers-in-training got a lesson in how to change a tire!  And then my awesome hubby who takes such good care of us took the van to Sears while the rest of us suffered at Barnes and Noble.
Life around here has been a little chaotic lately.  In the middle of June, we drove up to early registration to get our college girl all set up.

For over a year, we've been praying for Sarah's roommate, and God has given her a beautiful, sweet and spunky young lady to share life with during the next year.  The mamas hit it off, too!

Friday, June 16, 2017

A Continual Feast

One of our SITAG colleagues took advantage of the Choate Bed and Breakfast last week.  What a joy to pick her up from the airport and enjoy visiting for a while in our home.  Spending time with our SITAG family is a joy, no matter where we live.

We've also enjoyed having extra kids around and watching friendships renew.  No matter how well somebody has kept up using email while we've been overseas, there's nothing like going to the park or sitting down to play Ticket to Ride and hanging around for a boisterous supper.

Another thing that has been bringing me much joy is watching our kids get back in the habit of practicing their instruments. Especially when they work together.  This weekend holds early registration for Sarah's classes this fall, so the family will be driving up to help launch our firstborn.  Lots of good stuff filling our plates these days.  A continual feast indeed.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Shakespeare Summer

We usually school around the year, but worldwide travel and relocation to Arkansas encouraged us to wrap up the school year in March and to take a long summer break.  We'll still be having fun learning, though, because the Choate family will be enjoying...

Our hometown boasts a Shakespeare festival every summer.  That sparked a desire in me to gather resources and to intentionally cultivate a focus on Shakespeare for the next several weeks, weaving in and around the daily activities that keep our family hopping.  Katherine has fallen in love with "Shakespeare's Globe:  An Interactive Pop-Up Theatre" that we purchased years ago.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Rhythm and Rest

Our family is slowly settling into new patterns of rhythm and rest. 
Some of those patterns are well-worn and comfortable, like the morning routines of waking up, spending time with the Lord, exercising, and practicing music.  Finding chocolate striped tomatoes at the farmers' market was a delightful surprise this weekend!

We're regretfully cancelling the remainder of the longed-for sabbatical.  I think we didn't anticipate the abundance of "to-dos" that come with moving and resettling in a new place.  The small pockets of time we did take to renew and rest convinced us that we NEED to invest in more than just a weekly Sabbath at this point in our lives.
"To rule my time, to clear my mind was a choice of mental sovereignty, a reclamation of the direction, rhythm and source of my thoughts so that I could root them in the people I loved and the life I wanted to create.  I began to plan my hours of rest and work, my rhythms of fellowship and silence around what I believe to be the identity God means me to have as a lover of His people, a bringer of His kingdom, a maker of home." 
~Sarah Clarkson, "The Lifegiving Home"

Sunday, June 11, 2017


God made us from dust.  We're never too far from our origins.  The apostle Paul says we're only clay pots -- dust mixed with water, passed through fire.  Hard, yes, but brittle too.  Knowing this, God gave us the gift of Sabbath - not just as a day, but as an orientation, a way of seeing and knowing.  Sabbath-keeping is a form of mending.  It's mortar in the joints.  Keep Sabbath, or else break too easily, and oversoon.  Keep it, otherwise our dustiness consumes us, becomes us, and we end up able to hold exactly nothing.
~Mark Buchanan

Thursday, June 8, 2017


"Repentance, the first word in Christian immigration, sets us on the way to traveling in the light.  It is a rejection that is also an acceptance, a leaving that develops into an arriving, a no to the world that is a yes to God."  ~Eugene Peterson

"In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust in your strength..." 
Isaiah 30:15

"Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord..."  Acts 3:19

Essential to the refilling that I so desperately need?  Repentance. Part of my time hiding will be spent searching my heart and asking the Lord to shine His light on any hidden sins. 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Abiding is not an activity; it is a lifestyle.  It is reordering my whole perspective on life so that my sole purpose is to live simply and purely in devotion to the Lord.  It is letting the Lord be my Shepherd who leads me along right paths.  It is seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness.  It is being still and waiting patiently for the Lord by spending special time with Him, sitting at His feet, and reading His Word....Because the Lord is my Shepherd, I am prompted to prune activities and eliminate hindrances that would draw me away from Christ. 
~Cynthia Heald

Several years ago, my mom planted a row of gardenias in our backyard in Arkansas.  I anticipated a dazzling aroma to assail me when we moved in two weeks ago, instead I only found empty branches. Just the other day, I came outside with my Bible and coffee, plopped down in my chair, and raised my eyes to find one lonely blossom.  Fragrant and fragile.  Blooming in the barrenness.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Friends and Family

Part of our refilling is getting to celebrate with friends and family again!



anniversaries (somehow I ended up with a picture of my mom with her grandkids instead of with her spouse of 46 years),

forty-year-old friendships...

and double dates that highlight the joys and comfort of marriage because the guys rode in the front seat while the gals rode in the back.