Monday, July 30, 2012

We got lots done this weekend, thanks to our parents.  Our moms have been alternating playing with their grandchildren and helping us pack boxes, and we appreciate both kinds of assistance so much.  Saturday was a full day of packing, and Sunday we attended Woodland Heights Baptist Church in Conway.  Aaron was a charter member of this church twenty-five years ago, and we were married there, as well.

Aaron played his cello for the offertory.  He is really enjoying playing again, and I'm really looking forward to joining him soon.  Several church members brought food for a potluck at lunch, and we had the opportunity to visit with some familiar faces and to meet some new faces, too.

One of our favorite things to share with churches is the BPPP (Bibleless People Prayer Project), and the cards fit beautifully in my mom's salad bowl she bought while in the Solomon Islands.  Sunday night, we we honored to share with this church family and stayed up late meeting new friends!

 This morning when I woke up and went on the porch to water flowers, I noticed that the roses are finally blooming.  In our triple digit heat, they've taken a beating, but this feisty little bush has one bloom and one bud.  What a gift here at the end of our time in this cute little old house.

My mom helped pack dishes and practiced blowing really big bubbles.  I never could catch the best bubbles with the camera, but her bubbles made the packing process a little bit more fun!

In the mess, Katherine found a little bottle of wedding bubbles, so she plopped down and had some fun in the midst of the boxes.

And Olivia decided she needed a little break and found a cozy spot in the back of the truck along with the things going back to my mom's house.  We can see the light at the end of the tunnel!  Just one more big day of packing, and many hands make light work.  

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sweet Sarah

Friday, our sweet Sarah turned thirteen years old.

Katherine's card to Sarah

One of our family traditions is to gather around the birthday child and pray.  What a joy to watch & listen as family members from three different generations prayed for Sarah.

For my mother's 13th birthday, she received this beautiful heart shaped pendant made with tiny diamonds from her grandmother's wedding ring and a tiny ruby in the middle.  I also received this necklace as a young girl, and now Sarah is continuing the family tradition.

Even though she is thirteen now, Sarah still knows how to play!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Yesterday, we enjoyed our time with my grandmother's brother, Uncle Joe, and his beautiful wife, Aunt Dee, and perused their lovely shop, Wicks and Wax.   We also picked up a "birthday cake" candle made by My House Candles.  I haven't even taken the lid off the candle, but our whole room smells good now.

Spending time with the kindred spirits always encourages me.

We met our friends, the Hibbards, at Barnes & Noble because both families needed to use some gift cards, and then we transferred to Pinnacle Mountain State Park for a cookout.  The kids had a blast playing in a big pile of pea gravel.  Who needs fancy playground equipment?!?

The Hibbards are "iron sharpens iron" kind of people, and we're so thankful to call them friends.  My friend, Ann, is beautiful inside and out!

So after a fabulous day yesterday, today we are busy celebrating Sarah's 13th soon!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Thought I'd check in this morning...just got back from my eye appointment.  Hoping that this sixth set of contacts works!  Now we're headed out the door to Wicks and Wax, the store that my great uncle and aunt have owned since before I was born.  We'll probably end up with some coffee beans and candles before we leave.  Then we're over to meet some friends one last time before we head out to Texas next week.  Shaping up to be a great Thursday of family and friends!  What are your plans for the day?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Earthquake in the Solomon Islands

Just saw on Facebook that our colleagues in Honiara experienced an earthquake a little while ago:

"Just been woken up and shaken out of my bed by the worst and scariest earthquake I have ever experienced here in the Solomons! My dressing mirror smashed to the floor with other things while my whole house shook violently for a long time! My neighbour told me he thought his house was going to fall down! I am too shaken up to sleep now so going out for a walk with the neighbours to see the young adult team!!"

And from another friend chatting on Skype:

"We are fine. Epicenter was on the weathercoast of Guadalcanal. so it was close, and 6.5 is pretty strong. Shook things for about 20 seconds. maybe longer... seemed longer.  Power was cut to large sections of Honiara.  Lots of people at the hospital feared a tsunami and checked themselves out. Some in wheelchairs!  Quite a number climbed up Cemetary Hill."

We're so thankful that everybody in Honiara is fine.  According to our sources, the Discovery Team even enjoyed the experience! 
by Rebecca Kai Dotlich)

We pour
its liquid sweetness
from a tall
glass pitcher,

on frosty squares
of ice,

lemon light
and slightly tart,
we gulp its gold --
licking our lips
with summer.

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."  James 1:17

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Conway Woman's Daybook

For today...Tuesday, July 24

Outside my window...the sky is getting a tiny bit cloudy.  Come on rain, we need you!

I am thinking...about what a great weekend we had in Fort Smith.  Our friends, the Halls, loaned us a great book about Deputy US Marshall Bass Reeves and took us to the Fort Smith National Historic Site where we got to see Judge Parker's (the "hanging judge") courtroom.

We also had a blast at the Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center.  Thanks, friends!

From the learning rooms...just math for Benjamin and Olivia as we pack up books this week.

I am thankful for...the many people God has placed in our lives.  As much as I don't like moving around, our lives have been enriched by living in so many different places because of the amazing people we meet.

From the kitchen...bagels and yogurt for breakfast, leftovers for lunch, black bean tortilla casserole & rosemary strawberry shortcake pizza for supper.  I love having old family dishes on the table.  My great-grandmother's pink depression glass bowl and Aaron's great-grandmother's spooner dressed up our humble yogurt this morning.

I am wearing...white capris, a sea foam green t-shirt, and a tiny pendant of emeralds encircling a diamond that Aaron gave me for my 17th birthday

I am reading...still "Smart Moves".  It's more academic than I anticipated, but I'm really enjoying it.  I find myself agreeing with so much of her research.

I am hoping...and praying for friends on a mission trip to Wyoming

I am creating...our prayer calendar for August.  Hard to believe that July is almost over.

I am hearing..."Positively Hymns", the washing machine swishing our blue t-shirt sheets, Katherine sounding out words in her beginning readers

Around the house...another batch of homemade laundry soap is on the stovetop right now, and a fresh press of Choffy is steaming at my elbow.

One of my favorite things...schedule, order, routine, etc.  Don't laugh.

Pondering these words..."Time spent cuddling, playing, being fully present and consciously communicating with children establishes a bond of security, trust and respect on which the entire child-development pyramid is based."  from "Smart Moves"

Looking ahead...getting the brakes fixed on the van today, eye appointment on Thursday and a trip to Little Rock to visit some family and friends, Sarah's 13th birthday on Friday, and speaking at Woodland Heights Baptist Church in Conway on Sunday

A peek into my corner of the world...more good friends who have moved to Fort Smith.  We grew to love this family when we lived in Pine Bluff fifteen years ago and shared a couple of pregnancies.  Flake family, thanks for making time in your busy schedule for us!

Monday, July 23, 2012

And the winners are...

Catherine Nagl and Abi's Blog (runner up). I'll get these packages in the mail soon!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sweet Sabbath

"Praise the Lord.  How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him!"  Psalm 147:1

It IS pleasant to praise him:

-for celebrating my grandmother's birthday.  She's a cancer survivor, so watching her blow out that candle was an extra sweet treat.  I love having young grandparents!

-for checking on the kids at night and hearing four sets of deep, sleepy breathing.  Benjamin had an apnea monitor attached to his little chest for the first six months of his life, I'm so grateful for healthy kids.

-for WWII veterans like W.C. Kesner who fought on Guadalcanal.  He uses a beautiful walking stick he got while in the Solomon Islands almost seventy years ago.

-for being able to attend church in English, my heart language

-for worshipping at Eastside Baptist Church in Fort Smith, Arkansas.  Sitting together as a family still makes me giddy after being separated with men on one side and women on the other for four years.

-for old friends who have known us for at least 25 years (back when Denise and I both had big hair), and yet they still like us.  Thanks to the Hall family for a great weekend in Fort Smith!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Discovery Team update

Here's an update from the Discovery Team serving in the Solomon Islands over the last few weeks.  Thanks for praying for them!

As we shared earlier, one of the main purposes of Lee's Discovery Trip is to share with Pacific Islanders at the Festival how they can use their cultural arts to worship God. The Festival has allowed his team to present this workshop as part of their official program. This is the first time a Christian workshop has been offered as part of the program events! Lee and his team traveled to the island of Malaita last week and were hosted by village families. Over the four days the team ran the worship workshops, 45 representatives from local village churches attended. This week they are holding the workshops in the capital where Festival is also being held.

Lee writes, "We’ve heard some very encouraging things at the Festival this week. When the American Samoan group performed on the main stage they said that they always open their shows and close their shows by giving thanks to God. Colin interviewed them after their show and got a great recording of them. Throughout the interview they kept giving glory to God. They said too that it was raining up to the point of their show and then they asked God to stop the rain – and it stopped. A group from Guam performed last night and they sang some current worship songs. This is especially encouraging as the next Arts Festival is in Guam. After the workshop on Wednesday, one of the participants told our team that our workshop was the most important one at the Festival because it didn’t just give an answer of this is how you do it, but it guided the participants to discovery for themselves."

Friday, July 20, 2012


Two of my favorite things - Bible translation and Central Arkansas.  Strange combo, I know.  But I wanted to say thanks to those who have been praying us through this transition back to America. 

This giveaway includes a mug and notecards from Wycliffe Bible Translators,  as well as carrot cake jam made in Conway, goat milk soap from the Double D Ranch in Damascus, fudge and toffee handmade in PattiCakes bakery, and Biff's Coffee.

The "runner-up" will receive muscadine jam made in Greenbrier, an "I love Solomon Islands" mug, Solomon Gold coffee, and note cards made from pictures taken in Marulaon Village (thanks, Naomi!).

We'll draw names when we return from our trip to Fort Smith on Monday night, so leave a comment by 6 p.m. CST on July 23 to enter the drawing.  Thanks for praying for our family and encouraging us!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Fifteen Years Ago...

How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways....

I love thee to the level of every day's

Most quiet need

by sun and candlelight...

I love thee with the breath,

Smiles, tears of all my life...

What to do with all of those beautiful tomatoes that grow in my Grandfather's garden?

This afternoon, the "Choate Team" turned some tomatoes into yummy spaghetti sauce.

Between the garlic cooking and the fresh basil I just picked and brought into the kitchen, wow, our house smells so good right now!

Enough for tonight's supper with my grandmother to celebrate her birthday, and enough left over for later.  And we still have lots of big ripe tomatoes left to enjoy.

Anybody want to come over?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

I was chopping celery for lunch the other day, a mundane "normal" task that I relished because of its infrequency.  I could hear the washing machine and dryer humming behind me.  As I looked out the window at the pink crape myrtle valiantly trying to bloom in this drought, I thought about some verses I recently read in Isaiah:

"...But I the Lord will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.  I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys.  I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs.  I will put in the desert the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive.  I will set pines in the wasteland, the fir and the cypress together, so that people may see and know, may consider and understand, that the hand of the Lord has done this, that the Holy One of Israel has created it." 
Isaiah 41:17-20

For me, coming back from the Solomon Islands to the States has been like moving from  parched ground into a place with pools of water.  I love the Solomon Islands, I'm so thankful that God led us to live there, and, yes, we are planning to move back next year.  I need the hard stuff to appreciate the easy stuff.  I need the reminder "that people may see and know...the hand of the Lord has done this".  As I recently told a friend, I feel like my fuel gauge has finally moved just above the big E line.  I'm so thankful that little things like washing clothes for my family, chopping celery for turkey bundles, and discovering barely blooming trees remind me that God is doing, creating, working and refilling me.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Conway Woman's Daybook

For today...Tuesday, July 17

Outside my window...we've added a hummingbird feeder (thanks to my mom!) and gray clouds are teasing that they might share some of their precious rain

I am thinking...about how much I LOVE living in my hometown again.  Only two weeks left, and I'm enjoying every minute.

From the learning rooms...King James I of England & the founding of Jamestown, the kids enjoyed this game found in The Story of the World: Activity Book Three Early Modern Times.  Sarah, a stockholder, hid gummy bears (gold) in random amounts under four cups (ships) and had to convince the other stockholder how to invest in each ship.  Then both of the stockholders split the gold based on their investment in the New World.

I am thankful for...a slower pace for a few days.  Today, I'm fighting a headache that just won't go away, and being able to stay home and read to the kids is such a blessing.

From the kitchen...Parkin cake to help us remember Guy Fawkes and the foiled assassination plot of James I, plus beginning to clean out the pantry, fridge, and freezer as we get ready to move in just two weeks

I am reading..."The Help" by Kathryn Stockett.  So many people have recommended this book, so I snagged it from the library.

I am creating...just working on school schedules.  My goal was to get one entire week of school finished this summer so I could see where we needed to adjust before we actually started our school routine in August.  I love my job as a wife and mom!

I am hearing...Katherine and Olivia playing with our bulletin board set: dress the frog for the weather.  They keep changing the weather so they can change his outfit.  Changing weather is something they don't experience in the Solomons.

Around the house...we are beginning to accumulate boxes again, but it's nice to have pictures on the walls and to feel like this cute little rent house is home.

One of my favorite things...spending time with extended family and watching my kids build relationships with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.

Looking ahead...celebrating our anniversary and my grandmother's birthday, then driving up to East Side Baptist Church in Fort Smith over the weekend

A peek into my corner of the world...

the Central Arkansas Library used book sale last Friday.  Sarah and I joined my aunt, her two daughters, and my cousin-in-law, and we enjoyed sorting through books and bringing home a pile of books!  What a joy to live close enough to meet in Little Rock.