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

Kindness


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

Paintbrushes

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 things...like 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

Cracks


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.