Sunday, September 16, 2018

Sweet Sabbath

Reading through portions of Isaiah, I've been encouraged to look back and trace God's faithfulness in the lives of the Children of Israel as well as in my own life.  And I'm also encouraged to rest as a gift of the Holy Spirit.  May you choose to recount God's provision in your life as you rest today.

"Then his people recalled the days of old, the days of Moses and his people - where is he who brought them through the sea, with the shepherd of his flock?  Where is he who set his Holy Spirit among them, who sent his glorious arm of power to be at Moses' right hand, who divided the waters before them, to gain for himself everlasting renown, who led them through the depths?  Like a horse in open country, they did not stumble; like cattle that go down to the plain, they were given rest by the Spirit of the Lord.  This is how you guided your people to make for yourself a glorious name."  Isaiah 63:11-14

Saturday, September 15, 2018


Let me encourage you, if a kind action crosses your mind, do it.  Immediately. 

I woke up this morning to find an email from Aaron saying his flight had been canceled.  He rescheduled for 24 hours later, but it still felt like a punch in the gut (even after all our practice being flexible in the Solomon Islands!).  All you single mamas out there, I applaud you and your strength. But I still had to get rolling because today I had the honor of judging all-region orchestra auditions.  I love this program and these teachers and especially the students and their families, so it can be an emotional day as each student does their very best and waits to find out the results to see how all of their hard work pays off.  Around 3:00, I was in the midst of listening to more scales and sight reading, when my wonder twin walked in the door with coffee.  Not just any coffee, a cup full of exactly what I would have ordered for myself.  And I wept at her kindness that cut through the toughness I've been carrying for the last three weeks.

Thursday, September 13, 2018


God is painting his grace on the canvas of human souls.  One day we will stand with him in Glory and see that canvas completed, and we won't be able to do anything but worship.  What is our part in all of this?  We are God's brushes.  He wants to soak us on the palette of his grace and paint more of his goodness on yet another soul.  The question is, "Are we soft brushes in his hands?  A hard, dried-out brush doesn't pick up the paint well and mars the surface it was meant to beautify.  
~Paul David Tripp, "Instruments in the Redeemers Hands"

I'm back in the orchestra room this week, joyfully substitute teaching, and feeling the tendency to be a "hard, dried-out brush" instead of soaking in the palette of God's grace and looking for ways to paint more of His goodness on those around me.  I find my heart stays softer when I make space for beauty and order around me, so as silly as this may sound, the girls and I cleaned out the refrigerator this afternoon.  After a failed attempt to talk to Aaron in the Solomon Islands, I snuck out to the back patio with a third cup of coffee while the girls began school.  I want to be so sensitive to those crusty edges on my "brush", because it's so easy to let the gunk accumulate.  Lord, help me keep a soft brush.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Grandparents Day

The weekend began with Katherine's first youth orchestra rehearsal quickly followed by the annual Hughes reunion.  Such a treat to hang out with my paternal grandmother and her siblings' families.

Sunday after church, we hosted the rest of the grandparents for lunch:  Aaron's mom and dad #2 with three of their six Choate grandkids.

My brother and my cousin took time to play Headbandz with the girls,

and then we posed with our grandmother.  Three of her twenty-one grandchildren.

And my parents with two of their six grandchildren.  What a gift to celebrate the legacies that grandparents and great-grandparents have built.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Servant Heart

When I married Aaron, I knew he was a good guy.  I knew that he played with my younger siblings and that he was always the first (and quietest) to offer help cleaning up.  But watching his servant heart at work still gives me chills and makes my love for him grow even more.

Aaron has less than three weeks to work in the Solomon Islands, and every time I hear from him, I learn of another way that he has paused his own work to help somebody else in need.  He's tracked down time sensitive shipping information for a colleague in America.  He's used his computer skills to help another colleague's translator who was having some technical issues.

He's bumped into several friends around town, too, in the midst of buying what he needs for the village.  Aaron also unexpectedly got to help with manning a booth for World Literacy Day because SITAG was so shorthanded.

I love this guy more every day.  He knows that life and ministry isn't about how much you can get accomplished, but more about how you can strengthen and serve each other as you build up the Body of Christ.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Aaron's mom handed down this bracelet to me many years ago.  I don't know if you can see his name engraved on it, but it's there.  I'm wearing the bracelet as I type, partially as a reminder to pray for him as he works in the Solomon Islands. 

Please keep praying for his stamina, mental clarity, and wise choices.  He's getting to opportunity to do some extra, exciting things, like participate in World Literacy Day and write out the dramatization parts for the recording of Ruth and Jonah in Lavukaleve.  He's also getting to do some not as exciting fighting termites in our village house.  He's back in Honiara right now, but he'll turn right around and leave again on Sunday morning (his time)/Saturday evening (our time) for another trip out to Marulaon.

The other reason I'm wearing the bracelet is because I can't get it off!  The clasp is tricky, and I need Aaron's powerful fingers to squeeze and pull at the same time.  Ten more days...

Wednesday, September 5, 2018


My mom and I were chatting the other day about our ubiquitous lists of tasks to accomplish.  She commented that if nothing else were added and if no crisis occurred and if everything went according to her plans, she could handle life.  We both laughed, because we know that's not the way the Lord works.  

He expects us to use the wisdom He gives us to build healthy margin into our lives yet to also fully steward the gifts He gives us.  And when our plans are interrupted (and they will be!), we are reminded that He is control.  Often, those cracks allow the flashlight of God's grace to shine on the ugliness in my heart.  I'm reading Tish Warren's book "Liturgy of the Ordinary", and she shares some wise words about all of those little things that go wrong:

"Those moments are an opportunity for formation for sanctification…[They] expose my idolatry of ease, my false hope in comfort and convenience - I just want things to run smoothly."

And that's exactly the ugly I've been seeing, I idolize ease, love comfort and convenience, and just want things to run smoothly.  Another friend at church was discussing one of our favorite books, "Hinds Feet on High Places", and that the companions chosen for the journey were sorrow and suffering.  I still can't wrap my heart around the fact that those two are the best teachers, I don't want it to be true.  Yet in my own life, I know the most growth happens in those "sandpaper" moments, as my rough edges are almost imperceptibly smoothed away.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

The Christian faith holds no room for individualism.  No sooner is Adam created than God declares his aloneness "not good"  and remedies the situation with community.  The believer, though called to a personal relationship with God, is simultaneously called to a communal relationship with other believers.  Christian belief and isolationism are antithetical ideas.  
~Jen Wilkin, "In His Image"

Sometimes, being a part of the Body of Christ looks like filling in each other's gaps.  For my family, one of those gaps is me trying to teach PE this semester.  Our athletic and kind friend Kelly has graciously been meeting with us and trying to show us the finer points of playing basketball.  I so appreciate her willingness to share her gifts (and her daughter) with our family and to strengthen community.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Crossing Paths

In twenty-one years of marriage, we've moved quite a few times, and every time, we hope and pray that God will continue to twine the paths of our friends repeatedly along our path.  Sometimes, it takes sixteen years.

Last night, I was flopped on my bed scrolling through social media and wearing pajamas, getting ready to pull leftovers out of the fridge for supper and planning for an early bedtime.  I commented on a former student's Instagram post because he was in Arkansas for a visit.  Within seconds, I had a message from him saying he was stuck at the airport, and before I knew it, I was on the way to the airport to pick him up.

Henry played violin in the Pine Bluff Youth Orchestra, which I conducted when Sarah and Benjamin were babies.  He was a spunky, smart, talented kid who has grown into a godly man leading worship at his church in North Carolina.  I could get used to cooking breakfast every morning while hearing live praise music being played on my piano.

We only had a few hours together before I drove back to deposit Henry at the airport this morning, but what a sweet encouragement and an incredible surprise those few hours were!  We're making plans to meet in the Solomon Islands next time, and we won't wait sixteen years before our paths cross again.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

About the time Aaron headed down to the wharf to board good ol' Kosco for the village (please pray for his travels and time in Marulaon!), I was donning this cute vintage apron from Gayly and making the house smell good with some chocolate zucchini bread.  I hadn't planned to make this particular recipe (which is really just glorified chocolate cake), but I missing a key ingredient for the recipe I had planned to make.  Baking this weekend makes breakfast go a little more smoothly next week!

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa (I used at least 1/2 cup)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups shredded zucchini

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Coat a 9x5x3 inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.  In a large bowl mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda, cinnamon, and baking powder; 
set aside.

In a separate large bowl, mix the sugar, eggs, oil, and vanilla until well blended.  Stir in the zucchini.  Add the dry ingredients, and stir until just moistened.  Pour in to the prepared pan.  Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool in the pan.  Serves 16.

And while the bread was cooling and making the house smell absolutely wonderful, my awesome girls were taking the initiative to mow the front yard.  I'm so proud of them and the way they have stepped up in Aaron's absence.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Cue the music!  "Be Still My Soul" by Kari Jobe, or if you prefer, an acapella version by Eclipse 6.  Either way, you can't beat the encouraging words and Sibelius' tune to bring peace into your day.

1)  Sally Clarkson's blog and podcasts.  I love her heartbeat for the home!  Here's just the tip of the iceberg from her blog bio:  "Home is the place where the whispers of God’s love are heard regularly, the touch of His hands is given intentionally throughout the day, the words of His encouragement and affirmation pointed to lay the foundation of loving relationships where the mother conducts the beauty of this life within its walls."

2)  Groceries that you can order ahead and then go pick up.  This means that during the girls' piano lessons, I can drive over to the grocery store and grab exactly what I need.  I don't get distracted by looking at all the pretty things or buy anything that isn't on my list.  Huge time and money saver, and I count this as good stewardship!

3)  The Techie Teacher.  For somebody like me who is totally clueless about technology, this website is a great tool!  I often feel like I'm just getting the hang of things about the time we leave America and return overseas, so this website is going to serve as some serious professional development for me.  We used her post about e-mail for children to guide us toward a good choice for Katherine so she can do some things for homeschool.

4)  Vitamins.  Our family works to be intentional about good nutrition.  It helps that we just really like to eat!  I'll admit, I've been skeptical about many of the products out there, especially ones targeted toward specialty groups.  But there have been a few supplements that have really benefitted me over the last year, and now I'm willing to be cautiously optimistic about taking supplements.

The first one that really helped me was taking iron.  When we were overseas, I craved red meat (which is terribly expensive) and leafy greens and struggled with energy.  Taking slow-release iron boosted that energy level noticeably.

Another helpful extra was turmeric.  My knees were hurting something awful, but losing quite a bit of weight plus adding the turmeric capsules has erased the pain (but not the rice crispies sounds).

I read that One a Day vitamins had increased their Biotin in the women's multivitamin.  According to their website:  "The biotin level was increased to help support healthy hair, smooth skin and strong nails which are important to women.  Biotin is an essential nutrient important for the metabolism of carbohydrates, fat and protein.For the women’s tablets, we increased the Biotin level from 300 mcg to 1000 mcg per serving."  I started taking biotin during the school year because I noticed my nails flaking like crazy.  As a cellist, I don't really want long nails, but all of the sudden, they are strong and healthy like never before.

The vitamins I'm not convinced about are the ones targeted for teens.  I've got three teens in the house, but the ingredients don't look that different from other multivitamins.  Anybody want to weigh in on this one?

Ok so it's Friday Favorite Four.  And that's okay :-)

Thursday, August 30, 2018


As Aaron and I navigate a season in which he will be traveling internationally for thirty out of forty-nine days (but who's counting?!?), I'm reminded of the "Seven Secrets of Resilience" from the book "Married and Still Loving It", and I'm so grateful that Aaron already knew these secrets and has taught them to me and modeled them for our children:

1.  All couples will face difficulties.

2.  When we focus on solving the problem, rather than on blaming each other, we are more likely to find a solution. 

3.  We cannot change circumstances, but we can change our attitude.  A positive attitude always wins.

4.  We will not always understand why things happen.  The question is not "Why did this happen to us?" but rather, "What can we learn from this experience?"

5.  Turning to God and trusting Him with our pain is always better than running away from Him.

6.  Listening to each other is always better than yelling at each other.

7.  We need each other  Together we will survive this problem.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Yesterday, some of our friends honored us by trusting us to care for their almost two-year-old.  What a joy it was to delight in that age again!  The girls diligently did their school work, and I got to sing and take walks and play with blocks and read books.  Of course, now my kids are asking why we don't have another baby...

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

How life looks when Aaron is gone...

Technology worked well enough in Fiji that Aaron was able to call through Facebook.  It was so nice to hear his voice and see his face!  He'll try to call again from Honiara, but we anticipate the internet being too slow.  At least we can email and stay in touch :-)

Just a few weeks ago, it was a race to the coffee pot in the mornings.  I've made the habit of starting my day with a cute little 8 ounce cup, leaving coffee in the pot for all of the other coffee drinkers as well as giving myself the security of a fresh second cup of coffee when we make a French press of coffee with breakfast (I'd rather have no coffee than old, burnt coffee.).  Then the college kids left.  So, Aaron and I began making half a pot to start the day.  Then my hubby left!  Now I'm the only one left who drinks coffee regularly.  The girls might have a little bit here or there, but coffee doesn't figure into their daily routines like it does mine.  Enter the BIG MUG.  Now I start my day with a monster cup of coffee.  At least for the next three weeks...

Sunday, August 26, 2018

He's Off!

Early this morning, we drove to the airport to get Aaron started on his trip back to the Solomon Islands.  My third culture kids were bereft that they weren't getting on the plane, too.

Aaron will be gone for three weeks, and many details of this trip are out of his hands.  He's great at being flexible and making wise decisions on the spur of the moment.  Would you please pray for his discernment and especially for cross cultural awareness with all of the bits and pieces of this huge puzzle?

We're hopeful and excited about what he finds on paper and in the hearts of the Lavukal translation team!

Saturday, August 25, 2018

It probably looked a little shady.  Two vehicles pulling up in an empty parking lot.  Four people emerging and making a transfer of goods.  Except in this case, the people involved serve in full-time ministry, and the goods involved were t-shirts for the Lavukal Bible translation committee.  

We're so grateful to our friends who went the extra mile  (or two!) to help us get these shirts in time for Aaron to take them to the Solomon Islands on the plane tomorrow!

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Mamas out there, let me encourage you that while you are taking care of everybody around you, make sure to do the same things for yourself.  For years, as we've traveled around the world, in and out of good medical care, I've made sure that my kids and hubby always got the shots, eye appointments, dental cleanings, etc., but I haven't been consistent in taking care of myself.

It's like the oxygen mask on the airplane, if I don't take care of myself, I won't be able to nurture those around me.  So, this week, I finally finished up all of my doctor's appointments!  If I want my family to be good stewards of their minds, bodies, spirits, and emotions, I need to model that.  One of our dear friends recommended the book "Mindset", and it finally came in at the library.  

I'm only a third of the way through, but I'm already being convicted about the way I'm using my mind and the ways I'm encouraging (or not) my kids to use their minds.

And while I'm on the topic of stewardship, we're tackling PE this semester to fulfill Olivia's credits for graduation.  Katherine can do more pushups and sit-ups than Olivia and I can do put together.  As I often told my orchestra students last year, we have lots of room for improvement!

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Taco Tuesday

Last night, we enjoyed Taco Tuesday with a couple of extras:  my parents.  After supper, my mom pulled out a new game for us to try.  Left, Center, Right gave us a few minutes of laughter while our tacos digested happily.  Short and sweet and perfect for an after supper round of fun!

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Trying to be intentional as we navigate the transition from six to four means building new traditions.  Breakfast at CafĂ© on Broadway (where we drained three French presses of coffee)...

and ice cream at Pure Joy.  These places in Siloam Springs are going to help us make some touchstones and memories for our family in the future

But then we have to return to daily life as a family of four.  I think each of us has called out for Sarah or Benjamin at least once before remembering they are no longer in the house.  We are consoling ourselves with making beautiful food and using some lovely vintage dishes - but we only have enough for four.

Now that all of the hubbub has died down, we're also resuming the old comfortable ways of doing things.  Going to the farmers' market, starting back to homeschool, keeping a more regular schedule.  As we take care of our bodies and our spirits, we are finding that our hearts are following the other parts of us.

I think the best thing that we've done to help heal the huge hole in our family is to have our family videotapes transferred to digital.  We are laughing hysterically as we watch cute little Sarah and Benjamin's antics.  We're marveling in the fact that we have six of our children's great-grandparents on these videos.  And we are once again so very grateful for the full lives the Lord has given us.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Sweet Sabbath

We had the honor of returning to Pleasant Grove Baptist Church today to update them on the translation project.  I got to hear my favorite preacher, and the church provided a sumptuous potluck for lunch where we lingered over the good food and sweet fellowship.

Afterwards, we walked a few steps to spend time with some of my favorite people on earth:  

We were fewer in number today, but we still enjoyed playing and laughing and catching up.  What a joy to be close enough to family to continue to strengthen those bonds!

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The Eagles have landed

Yesterday, the rain held off long enough for us to pack two vehicles and a little U-Haul trailer full of things to make two dorm rooms home for Sarah and Benjamin (and with a lot of stuff that belongs to Sarah's roommate who studied abroad last semester).  These guys have totally emptied their rooms because when this school year ends, they won't have a home to go back to.  The rest of us plan to be back in the Solomon Islands by that point.

My grandma swung by the house to say goodbye.  Reminded me of twenty-six years ago when another college student was leaving for the new school year.

When we arrived at John Brown University (whose mascot is an eagle), Sarah was attacked by hugs.  So much joy as friends were reunited!  The unloading went quickly as many hands pitched in to make light work.  I'm thankful that my kids have a great support network of family and friends who love and encourage.

While Aaron went to return the trailer, the rest of us unpacked boxes and lofted the beds.

I loved the juxtaposition of books and spices - two of Sarah's favorite things.

After supper, we got Benjamin unpacked and lofted.  Then the fab four headed back to the hotel while Sarah and Benjamin made a trip to Walmart to buy the things they had forgotten to bring.

And to make a run to Sonic for half price shakes after 8:00.

This morning, the fab four loaded up in the empty van with school books and headed back to JBU for the day.

 We worked in the back of the room, the girls and I on school and Aaron on translation work, while Sarah and Benjamin sat at the front of the room.  Even amidst the meetings and a flood of information poured on the new international students and missionary kids, the hearts of the staff spoke loud and clear to their commitment to serving these students and to honoring Christ.

 Our eagles have landed in a safe nest indeed.  Let the adventure begin!