Saturday, September 29, 2018

In the Mist

"She began to realize that, cowardly though she was, there was something in her which responded with a surge of excitement to the tests and difficulties of the way better than to easier and duller circumstances...she found herself realizing with astonishment that even the dizzy precipice had been more to her liking than this dreary plodding on and on through the bewildering mist.  In some way the dangers of the storm had stimulated her; now there was nothing but tameness, just a trudge, trudge forward, day after day, able to see nothing except for white, clinging mist which hung about the mountains without a gleam of sunshine breaking through."  
from "Hinds Feet on High Places"

Both yesterday and today, we've woken up to mist and fog enshrouding everything.  I sat on the porch with my coffee in hand and opened up "Hinds Feet on High Places" where the bookmark indicated I'd left off.  The chapter entitled "In the Mist" looked up at me.  As I began to read, I recognized little bits of myself in the main character, Much Afraid.  Not because I prefer the excitement and danger of the storms of life! But because I tend to become complacent in the daily tameness of the mist.

I actually prefer the duller circumstances, but I know that the Lord uses the more difficult aspects of life in the Solomon Islands to pull me closer to Him.  As we prepare to go back, I'm the only one in the family who isn't excited.  I love the work and the people, but honestly, I don't love how strenuous and hot and isolated life is.  I recognize that I am thrown at Jesus' feet more because of the hardships, yet the endurance and perseverance that is grown in me during times in the mist is a valuable asset, too.  I need both the storms AND the mist.

"We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirt gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way:  bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience..."

Colossians 1:9b-11

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Adventures in Korea

Katherine has moved over to Korea in her history and geography studies, so we scanned the library's shelves to see what books they had to enhance our learning:

"Peach Heaven" by Yangsook Choi
"A Single Shard" by Linda Sue Park
"Bee-bim Bop!" by Linda Sue Park
"North Korea and South Korea" by Cath Senker
"The Korean Cinderella" by Shirley Climo
"The Firekeeper's Son" by Linda Sue Park
"The Kite Fighters" by Linda Sue Park

We also discovered a Korean cooking website:  Maangchi.  We're having a hard time narrowing down our choices for which recipes to make, but I guarantee it's going to be fun and delicious.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Today, I'm super grateful for dentists.  It still feels a little surreal to have our teeth cleaned every six months!  And our dentist offices are fabulous.  Katherine's hygienist even offered her sunglasses to wear to block the bright light during the cleaning.

I'm also grateful for the diligence of my girls and for the flexibility of school at home (or at the dentist office!).  Olivia and I discussed Jane Eyre while Katherine had her teeth cleaned and Katherine and I talked about Kite Fighters while Olivia was getting her x-rays.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Happy Birthday, Katherine!

Katherine's two birthday requests were to have a birthday cake made by Sarah and to hit a piñata with all of her siblings.  I think this mama isn't the only one who has been missing our college students.

Trying to coordinate Sarah and Benjamin's schedules with our own super difficult, so for supper Sunday night, we tried Pieology minus Benjamin. What a great place!  The pizza was yummy, but my favorite thing about this restaurant was the row after row of inspirational quotes and scriptures lining the walls.

After supper, we made a quick stop to pick up some ice cream, then we drove over to Sarah's dorm where a fabulous birthday cake awaited Katherine.

Monday morning, we met the college students at a cute little coffee shop on campus, 

We had less than an hour together, but we hit the piñata for the reward of chocolate, drank copious amounts of coffee, and enjoyed every minute.

Monday, September 24, 2018

What an honor to spend some time with members of First Baptist Church in Mountain Home this weekend!  They opened their homes and hearts to us and encouraged us to share about Bible translation and our lives in the Solomon Islands.  Sweet fellowship indeed.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Weekend Wonders

We intuitively know that goodness and beauty are connected to the divine, that "every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights" (James 1:17)….We are not only grateful for pleasure; our hearts wonder what kind of Creator makes a world that overflows with such loveliness and beauty.  As Lewis says, "One's mind runs back up the sunbeam to the sun."  
~Tish Harrison Warren, "Liturgy of the Ordinary"

This weekend, I'm grateful for things that are making my mind run back up to the Father:

-A cold front that brought rain on the first day of Autumn.  Beginning the morning with a hot cup of coffee, a Bible, and a quilt on the front porch is one of the best ways I know to start my day.

-My new favorite album.  This has been on repeat lately.  How I love these old hymns with their modern choruses, both drawing my thoughts to biblical truths.

-Method cleaning products.  My friend, Gayly, got me hooked on these lovely scents and friendly cleaning.  The grapefruit all-purpose cleaner makes me WANT to clean!

-Van school.  It's been a while since we took a family road trip, but this weekend we are traveling several hours to share with a church, so we might as well make the most of our time on the road.  Proud of my Olivia and Katherine for their hard work!  I get more car sick than the girls do, but peppermints helped us get through the winding roads.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Adventures in China

In addition to our favorite picture books about China, we're enjoying our school books, too.  Classics like "Where the Mountain Meets the Moon", "Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze", "Lu Lin, Lad of Courage", and "House of Sixty Fathers" have been on our shelves for years.  This year, since we're living in America, we took advantage of our local library.  We found some fun books like "Leaving China:  An Artists Paints His World War II Childhood" by James McMullan and "Building the Great Wall of China:  An Interactive Engineering Adventure (You Choose Engineering Marvels)"

By far, our favorite books were the cookbooks:  "The Food of China" by Tamra Orr and "The Cooking of China" by Matthew Locricchio.  Katherine chose five recipes (she has been working to hone her kitchen skills!) and started cooking her feast at 2:00 p.m. so it would all be ready in time for supper.  She did almost all of the work herself, and it was a very late meal by the time every dish was ready, but so worth it!  My favorite recipes were Velvet Corn Soup (Yu Mi Geng) and Lion's Head (Shi Zi Tou).

Velvet Corn Soup (Yu Mi Geng) from "The Cooking of China" 
Serves 4 to 6

1 medium size boneless skinless chicken breast (about 4 ounces)
1/4 pound smoked ham or Smithfield ham
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups creamed corn
4 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon cornstarch, mixed with 2 tablespoons water
2 green onions, finely chopped

Place the chicken breast in the freezer for 20 to 30 minutes.  Partially freezing it will make it easier to cut.  Slice the ham into long strips, then into 1/2-inch cubes, and refrigerate.  Slice the chicken into long strips, then into cubes slightly larger than the ham.  Using an electric hand mixer, beat the egg whites until they are almost stiff.  Add the chicken cubes and salt to the egg whites and refrigerate.  Wash the beaters of the hand mixer.  Beat the creamed corn with the electric mixer for about 30 seconds, or until smooth.  

Aaron helping assemble the egg rolls

In a 4-quart pot, bring the chicken stock to a boil.  Line up these ingredients on your countertop:  chicken mixture, creamed corn, cornstarch mixture, ham cubes, green onions.  Add the chicken mixture and creamed corn to the chicken stock.  Slowly bring the soup back to a boil.  This will take 2 to 3 minutes.  Stir the cornstarch and water mixture to recombine.  When the soup boils, stir in the cornstarch mixture.  Add the ham cubes and cook for another minute, stirring, to finish the soup.  Serve hot, with the chopped green onions sprinkled on top, and pass the soy sauce at the table.

Lion's Head (Shi Zi Tou) from "The Cooking of China"
Serves 4

6 green onions (scallions)
1 inch thick slice of ginger
1 pound ground pork
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 large egg
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 medium size head of boy choy, or Chinese or napa cabbage
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons peanut or canola oil

Wash the green onions.  Remove the root end and any dark leaves.  Finely chop them, both the white part and about 3 to 4 inches of the green sections, into small pieces and add to a large bowl.  Peel the skin from the ginger.  Cut the ginger into thin slices, stack the slices on top of each other and slice them into strips.  Finely mince the ginger strips and add them to the bowl along with the green onions.

Add the ground pork to the bowl, with the cornstarch, egg, rice wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sesame oil, salt, and pepper.  Using your very clean hands or a large spoon, mix the ingredients together until combined.  Shape into four meatballs and lay them on a clean plate.  Wash your hands with lots of warm soapy water and dry.  Lightly cover the meatballs with wax paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate.


Cut off the root end of the bok choy and discard.  Wash the stalks under cold water to remove any dirt.  Separate the stalks, lay them on a cutting board, and cut each one in half, lengthwise.  Slice the stalks crosswise into 3- or 4- inch pieces.  Continue with the rest of the bok choy.  You will need about 4 cups of sliced bok choy or cabbage.  In a wok or 12-inch frying pan or skillet, heat the canola oil over medium heat until hot but not smoking.  If using a wok, brown the meatballs one at a time for 2 to 3 minutes on each side until they are lightly browned and crispy.  If using a frying pan or skillet, brown the meatballs, two at the same time until they are lightly browned and crispy.  Remove the browned meatballs to a clean plate.

Lay 2 cups of the sliced bok choy in the bottom of a 3- to 4- quart heavy-bottomed heatproof covered pot or casserole, with a lid.  Place the browned meatballs on top of the bok choy.  Cover the meatballs with the remaining bok choy.  Add the remaining tablespoon of soy sauce to the chicken stock and stir to combine.  Carefully pour the stock and soy combination into the pan.  Bring the pan to a boil over medium-high heat.  This will take 3 to 4 minutes.  Once it boils, cover the pan with the lid slightly ajar, reduce the heat to low, and simmer to 50 minutes.  After 25 minutes baste the bok choy with some of the cooking liquid.  To serve, place the meatballs in a serving blow with some of the bok choy leaves, and some of the cooking liquid spooned over the top.  Serve hot.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Mid-Week Miscelleny

It's only Wednesday, yet we've packed a lot of fun and work and school and memories into the last few days!  The highlight was picking up Aaron from the airport (only delayed by 22 hours).

We celebrated National Playdough Day both with our college kids via technology,

and at home with the younger two.  Something about making, creating with, and eating peanut butter playdough just makes me happy!

Aaron always seems to defy jetlag, he and Katherine walked over to enjoy the beautiful day while watching the county fair parade yesterday afternoon.  These two peas in a pod saw lots of people they knew and cheered on our community members streaming by.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Super Hero

This morning, we had the first of many "long range planning committee" meetings since Aaron returned from overseas.  Lots to pray about and discuss and get on the calendar.  All fueled by coffee in our new mugs.  He is truly my super hero, and I love being his side kick.

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 the 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.