Tuesday, October 31, 2017

On top of Mt. Nebo

"Now Autumn's fire burns slowly along the woods,
And day by day the dead leaves fall and melt,

And night by night the monitory blast
Wails in the key-hole, telling how it pass'd

O'er empty fields, or upland solitudes,
Or grim, wide wave, and now the power is felt

Of melancholy, tenderer in it's moods,
Than any joy indulgent summer dealt."
~William Allingham

Last Friday, our school district had a day off, so our family took advantage of the time to hide away at Mt. Nebo State Park for a teeny tiny overnight family fall break.

We never fail to be refilled when we step away and hide in the midst of God's incredible bounty of creation.  This semester has left us gasping, but we felt restoration begin as we laughed and traipsed along the trails for hours.

I heard phrases like, "Mama, how do Americans start fires?" when Aaron built a fire in the cabin's fireplace.  I also heard, "I feel like I'm seeing God face to face!" as we watched the sun set.

We discovered that this must be the season for "stick bugs" and that they are REALLY good at camouflage.

According to the park's website:  "The stone enclosure of Nebo Springs, located directly below the bench, dates back to the 1800’s. Children were often sent to the spring with buckets to fetch water for meals."  Our kids just thought it was a great place to get iron rich orange slime to mark on your face.

Less than 24 hours at the park gave us a taste of the rest and renewal we needed.  Worth the investment, indeed.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Sarah's Fall Break coincided with the Bible Translation Conference in Dallas this year.  As a linguistics minor, we all thought she might benefit from attending the sessions with her daddy.  So the two of them traveled to Dallas to learn lots (and to see some really neat people).

Like these two guys.  We love and admire them so much and are grateful for the years we've been able to work and live alongside them.  Because Sarah was busy in Dallas during most of her break, we only got to spend a few precious hours with her.  She's adjusting beautifully to college life, and we're so grateful!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Horizontal vs. Vertical

"Everywhere you could look horizontally has been affected by the fall in some way.  There are simply no perfectly ideal situations, no paradise locations, no completely satisfying experiences, and surely no perfect people this side of eternity.

Add to this the fact that all these things are fleeting.  None of them lasts.  Every horizontal thing, this side of eternity, is in the process of decay.  So hope that addresses your deepest needs, that gives you reason to continue no matter how hard life is, and that promises you eternal good is only ever found vertically."  ~Paul David Tripp, "New Morning Mercies"

No paradise locations.  I can't tell you how many times somebody has said they would like to move to the Solomon Islands along with us.  It's a lovely place to live, but it's not paradise.  Living in the tropics makes me so grateful for the little "horizontal" gifts God bestows.  Things like the opportunity to plant pansies that would wilt and die quickly in the tropical heat.  The big backyard that we get to rake repeatedly in the fall as the leaves and pine needles fall.  Those small gifts that we never get to enjoy when we live overseas.

And the way the Lord inserts His vertical gifts into the horizontal "daily-ness" of life - when my husband needs to speak words that might cut and hurt but in Aaron's listening to the Holy Spirit do the surgery that my soul needs.  How like our loving God to use those fleeting, lovely horizontal gifts to augment our eternal, vertical gift.

We bought a few tickets to the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra this year.  At the season opener, the orchestra honored a bass player who had performed with the symphony for forty years.  He also happened to be the conductor of the Arkansas Youth Symphony when Aaron and I played many years ago.  The audience gave him a standing ovation, and I think I was the first one on my feet.  To come full circle back into the world of music and the people that impacted our lives is another gift.

Because we know the hope that addresses our deepest needs, we are freed to enjoy the horizontal blessings, too, without finding our worth in them.  We still lay up treasures in heaven and invest in eternal things instead of investing in earthly things that are corrupted by moth and rust, but we can revel in the chance to cheer for our favorite team, to notice the light changing as the seasons progress, to watch and celebrate our children's growth and development.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

A New Friend

We've been revisiting old favorites as Olivia and Katherine work their way through American History.  Books like "George vs. George:  The American Revolution as Seen From Both Sides" and "The Boy Who Loved to Draw" have been on our bookshelves for years.

But I recently found a new friend to add to our book basket:  "Gingerbread for Liberty:  How a German Baker Helped Win the American Revolution".  I'm sure we'll soon be making gingerbread from the recipe in this fun book.  

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Happy birthday, Katherine!

All of my kids are now in double digits.

With friends and family gathered around Katherine, the birthday girl, we prayed blessings over her. 

I'm thankful for crockpots and roasts that made lunch after church so easy and delicious.

And I'm thankful that this year we live close enough to so many special people

that our house was full of neighbors and friends and uncles and grandparents.

It seems like eons ago that she was turning one while we attended the Pacific Orientation Course in Papua New Guinea.

Birthdays in America are just different from birthdays overseas.

But no matter where we celebrate, we love focusing on the unique creation God made.  

Monday, October 2, 2017

All in the Nest

Sarah came home last weekend to help us celebrate a couple of special days.

The first one was the Arkansas South All-Region Orchestra.  As I sat and listened to the rehearsals, I was overwhelmed at how much I had missed being a part of this world.  And this time I got to share it with Benjamin.  He has worked on his viola super hard all summer and into the fall to make up some lost ground.  And he made 5th chair!  It was a joy to listen to the improvement in just two days of rehearsals and to watch the kids give their best as they worked with the clinicians.

The second special event was Katherine's tenth birthday.  It's hard to believe we've had that sweet girl around for ten years!  And it's also difficult for me to fathom that we've been a part of the world of Bible translation in the Solomon Islands for that long, too.  Katherine was born in the middle of linguistic school for Aaron and me.

Sarah and Katherine made birthday cake according to Katherine's specifications.

And the laughter rang as we stayed up way too late drinking coffee and catching up with our college student whom we love so much.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

"We are more likely following our calling when we recognize our complete incompetence and utter dependence on God."  ~Aimee Byrd

Each morning, I face this room full of orchestra students.  Throughout the day, I visit four different schools.  I never thought I would be back in the classroom, but I love it.  My stamina is non-existent.  Yet Aaron and I feel strongly that this is exactly where I need to be.  "Utter dependence on God" indeed.