Friday, November 30, 2018

No Shave November

On November 1st, I texted Benjamin to ask him if he was going to participate in "No Shave November".  This picture was the response I received.  Evidently his dorm was holding a contest!

So here we are, the last day of November, and this handsome young man sat across the table in front of me this morning as we drank coffee together before his class began.  I think I'm liking the bearded look on him.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Preparation for Advent

The last day of Thanksgiving break, we were finally home together.  Just the six of us.  So we assembled the tree and talked about the history behind our ornaments.

We went to church together and raised our voices in worship.  Then we joined my side of the family for a very untraditional Thanksgiving lunch of delicious Chinese food.

Preparing for Advent is on our minds.  With half of the kids gone, this year will look different.  We'll still enjoy daily activities and traditions and book baskets to keep our minds focused on Jesus and the gift he gave us.  We're replacing our normal school read-alouds with Christmas recommendations from Read-Aloud Revival (she's got some great book lists!).

All six of us closed our brief time together by singing some Advent hymns and the shepherd's chorus from Amahl and the Night Visitors.  And then, too quickly, it was time for my amazing college students to drive away and get back to work.  I've got their Advents celebrations ready to go, either in the mail or already sent back with them.  Just a few little things to continue to bind our hearts together as we focus on celebrating Jesus over the next few weeks.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

When we came through Dallas in July, these folks were in Papua New Guinea working on their Bible translation.  Thankfully, this time they were in their cute little apartment right next door to the guest house where we slept.  All it took was a quick text and the welcoming response was "Coffee is on!".  More framily.  A few minutes of catching up wasn't enough, but we are grateful for Uncle Jan and Aunt Debbie whose hearts have been melded to ours by our time together in the Solomon Islands.

Monday, November 26, 2018


"Relationships can be messy and not very efficient, but loving relationships are at the heart of the gospel  In the language of efficiency, love is willing to waste time."  
~Alan Fadling, "An Unhurried Life"

There are just some people in our lives where we feel close bonds of shared experiences tying our hearts together.  They aren't related by blood, they are related by hardships and joy, by Jesus and the things He is doing in our lives.  They are framily.  (Framily also happens to be the name of a recently discovered favorite coffee.)

Over the years, this family has shared school experiments, many races of varying speeds, temperatures, and intensities, birthdays, and ship adventures.

They keep adding more grandchildren, and the amazing thing is that whenever the big, messy extended families all get together, their crew mingles and plays and laughs with ours just like we belong.  

So, when our faraway friend, Karen, made a trip to visit the Gebauers, only six hours away, there was a quick Choate group chat via text, and we decided to surprise Karen with a visit.  Since she no longer works with SITAG, we don't know when we'll be close enough to hug her neck again.

Even though our time on the road was longer than the time we actually spent looking at each other, "in the language of efficiency, love is willing to waste time."  Nourishing each other spiritually, physically, and emotionally, we invested in exercise and coffee and catching up.  

These kind of friends don't waste moments with small talk, we know we can dive deep quickly with each other.  And there is always time for a game of "sela coconut" when we get together.

These friends have invested many years serving the Solomon Islands through Bible Translation and literacy, and these kids have all grown up together in the South Pacific.

The Lord has knit our hearts together.  Truly, we are "framily".

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Thanksgiving Road Trip

Sarah is planning to study abroad in Uganda next semester, and she is super excited.  Several weeks ago she scheduled an appointment for the day after Thanksgiving to get all of the vaccinations she needs for her travels.  On the way to her appointment she read Louisa May Alcott's "An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving" out loud.  It's a family favorite, but a failed Librevox attempt during our trip to Memphis left us hungry to hear the book, even the day after Thanksgiving.

We got Sarah poked full of all kinds of goodness, then we began a secret mission.  Only a few days ago, we decided to hatch a covert operation to surprise an Aussie friend who used to work with us at SITAG.  It was a last minute lickety-split road trip to Dallas.

On our road trip, we took advantage of Starbuck's BOGO offer after three o'clock.  As we waited for our drinks to be prepared, I looked over at my three teenagers who were chatting and laughing together, and I was overcome with thankfulness.  For their friendship, for their adventurous spirit (we put almost twenty hours on the road during Thanksgiving break), for the joy these three bring into my life.

Saturday, November 24, 2018


With the college students getting home late Tuesday night, we crammed as much family as possible into Thanksgiving break.  Hosting a brunch on Wednesday morning with Aaron's mom and dad #2 kicked off the festivities.

After we cleared the table, we pulled out Hanabi and had a blast working together as a team to better our score each round.

Then Olivia drove us several hours to Jonesboro to pick up Aaron's Gran, and we picnicked in the van as we continued on to Memphis to celebrate Thanksgiving with Aaron's dad and mom #2.

Thursday morning, it smelled and sounded like Thanksgiving:  the turkey was out and filling the kitchen with its tantalizing aroma, and the sounds of Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade was wafting through the air.

Everybody pitched in to prepare the feast we shared around the table.

And when our bellies were full of corn casserole and cranberry sauce, we all began to unpack Christmas decorations.

It didn't take long before inside and outside looked festive and ready to celebrate Christmas.

 And that meant it was time for Team Choate to hit the road and head back home after another tradition filled Thanksgiving gathering.

Next year, we anticipate being back in the Solomon Islands for the holidays, so we're extra grateful for the opportunities to spend time with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins that make up our family.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Autumn Book Basket

Even though the seasons officially changed eight weeks ago, it is only recently feeling like Autumn down here in Arkansas.  It's lovely not to have to pretend that the seasons are changing!
In addition to our old favorites for fall and our Thanksgiving treasures, our book basket is finally full of fun new books from the library.  I would love to take some of these books back with me to the Solomon Islands so the Third Culture Kids at SITAG can be reminded of what Autumn looks like in the Northern Hemisphere:

"Fall Ball" by Peter McCarty
"A Fall Ball for All" by Jamie A. Swenson
"In the Middle of Fall" by Kevin Henkes
"Who Loves the Fall" by Bob Raczka
"In the Woods:  Who's Been Here?" by Lindsay Barrett George
"Fall Leaves Fall!" by Zoe Hall
"The Autumn Visitors" by Karel Hayes
"Arkansas Autumn:  Spectacular Fall Photos of The Natural State" by Tim Ernst

One of my favorite autumnal treats is a pumpkin dip that I adapted from a recipe Gayly shared with me years and years ago:

8 oz Cool Whip
16 oz can of pumpkin
1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/4 cup powdered sugar
8 oz. light cream cheese

Mix all ingredients together and enjoy with ginger snaps!  Especially nice with a Turmeric Pumpkin Spice Latte (tasty AND good for my aging joints).

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Cello Trio

Often we choose "celloduo" as our user name.  Having played our cellos together for more than thirty years certainly qualifies us for than moniker!  But last Sunday we added an old friend to our duo and became a trio.  I've known Kristen since I was three, we grew up in church together, then made music in choir and orchestra together at school.

She invited us to come make music and to share about Bible translation with her church, Foothills Bible Church.  They were the BEST question askers we've ever heard.  Thoughtful and insightful questions that showed a good understanding of what God is doing around the world.  Worshipping with a new church is always a treat.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Sweet Sabbath

"I offer you all that I have:  my talents, my training, the years spent honing and crafting and creating, my passions, my personality, my history, the many sacrifices I and others have made in in order for me to be here.  I give you even my brokenness, of which I am also a steward.  I offer now these incomplete and insufficient provisions, remembering how you, in your days among us, twice blessed inadequate offerings, fashioning them into miraculous feasts that would sustain crowds in their hard journeys."  ~Douglas McKelvey, "Every Moment Holy"

We are much more comfortable hiding behind the translation desk, in the back of the cello section, or in the kitchen where no one sees.  But lately, God has been placing us a little bit more in front of people.  So, we continue to bring him our small "loaves and fishes".

"Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, 
but how far will they go among so many?"  John 6:9

And we trust that He will use all that He has placed in us as we serve on both sides of the Pacific Ocean.  We're encouraged that the rough draft of Ephesians was recently brought to SITAG, and Aaron now possesses a digital copy.  This is the first time he hasn't had to type the draft from a pen and paper copy!  

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship."  Romans 12:1

Will you join us on this day set aside for rest and worship as we once again offer our whole selves, with all our brokenness and history and personalities, as living sacrifices to the One who made us?

Saturday, November 17, 2018


Watching Aaron light up as he interacted with the JBU students this week was a highlight for me.  

So many students got excited as they worked the linguistics puzzles and talked about art and music across cultures.  By far, the neatest thing God did for us personally was to have this couple walk around from table to table, visiting each display.  

Dr. Boling taught at JBU for thirty years.  He taught Aaron's Greek professor, which in a way, makes Aaron a "grand-student".  But after Dr. Boling retired, he volunteered to teach in Dallas, and Aaron studied under him there.  They were reunited this week, and we were reminded that God most often works quietly in His faithful stewards over the years.  Exactly the encouragement we needed.

Friday, November 16, 2018

International Food Festival

Wednesday, the girls and I sat in to listen to the Cathedral Choir rehearse while Aaron manned the table.  Their new director is a bundle of energy!  They are preparing some beautiful music for the Christmas Candlelight performances which are just around the corner.

As soon as choir was finished, we hit the kitchen to prepare for the international food festival.  

We had already hunted down frozen grated cassava, and now we were ready to cook foods to represent the Solomon Islands.

Sarah's amazing roommate helped us spread the cold, messy stuff across the banana leaves.  I sure am thankful for God's provision in a kind, fun, and compatible roommate!

Somebody had to babysit the dorm's oven, so the girls and I moved school into the kitchen, once again leaving Aaron to interact with students at Dallas International University's display.  Our adventures also included a brief stint in the hallway because of a tornado drill.

So while Sarah was in class and work study, we got to hang out with all of the students who were cooking their home country's food for the festival.

And smell the banana leaves as the cassava pudding cooked.  Those leaves do create a distinctive smell.  Some might say di-stink-tive.  Tuesday night, our chicken in the crockpot made everybody asked what smelled so good, but Wednesday night the questions were about what smelled so bad!

The food festival was once again a huge success.  Sarah and Benjamin did a great job of planning a fun, interactive display representing the Solomon Islands.  Blowing the conch shell was a favorite.

  Benjamin can blow it loud and long!

Our village banana cake (made with coconut oil from the Solomon Islands) was a big hit next to the cassava pudding.  

We also had some havu, one of our favorite nuts, that Aaron brought back from his recent trip to the Solomon Islands.

Sarah looked great in the skirt she made herself.

Throughout the evening, different students performed something that represented their home country, and the last one of the night was my two college students singing in Lavukaleve.

 They did a great job, and there was much cheering for these two when they finished.  I'm so proud of the many ways they are taking advantage of every opportunity offered to them at JBU.