Saturday, December 11, 2010

Happy Birthday!

So happy to have this little huggable dearie in our lives. May the 6th year be a growth in grace and stature for her.

A visit from an angel

Walking to the local store to get some treats.

Hugs. A listening ear. Someone who takes your kids to get ice cream. I needed a visit from this dear lady. The Lord provides the right people at the right time. Thank you God and thank you Karen!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Never a Dull Moment

It was haircut time for us ladies of the house last week. We found our favorite stylist, Laila, in her new little salon at 6 in the evening. A cute "hallway" studio, with clean white tile floors, a bright light, one chair, one shampooing sink, and a cassette player that played some ethnic dance music. B. was first and Laila began chopping away. (She has a good eye for even hair, though she certainly likes to cut short!) B's hair was half done when I noticed that Laila began to cough and went for a brief walk outside. When she returned she bent down to get a drink from the shampooing sink. Unfortunately we heard a retch and poor Laila began vomiting. The minute that followed felt like a good 1/2 hour as I asked her if she needed help, debated if we should quickly run out of there (!), said "poor thing, poor thing," and then determined to sterilize myself upon our return home. She felt much better after that episode and put a towel over the shampooing sink (remind me to always wash my hair before going next time!). Though I urged her to rest and we would return another time, she wanted to complete all of our hairdo's. So she did. And we all showered vigorously when we returned home.

I love an adventure. I do. But sometimes I just long for something here to be routine, ordinary, what I expected. I guess "dull moments" don't always require much faith in God to get you through them though. He is near and cares for us and a little sickie stylist.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Signs of Fall

The start of new online Veritas Press classes--Medieval Literature, Composition, and Theology
New classes at the local French/Arabic school in the afternoons
And pumpkin pie!

Monday, September 6, 2010

New growth, new life

My mom influenced me to like Jade plants. They are my favorite. I delight in going outside on our balcony patio and examining them. I always kneel down, finger their leaves, and revel in their growth. After doing this for a few minutes in the morning, I shake out of my dreamy state and go back to the laundry or dishes or whatever. There's great therapy in a little nature!

When things were so difficult this spring, I thought I might objectify my pain a bit. I took my biggest jade plant and pretended it was me. (Bear with will soon make sense!) I chopped off 4 branches to represent our 4 Mexican friends who were asked to leave. As you can see, I mutilated it a bit.
My sweet plant, clobbered. It was how I felt, like my own right arm was cut off. The pain of their leaving and everything else that was happening.

But, I knew a secret as I cut away. I knew that it would grow back. I knew that it would take time. I knew that it would take care. But, it would grow.

Similarly with my heart. It would take time, care, and soaking in God's promises, but I too would be new. With the kids last week we learned a new one of God's promises--God will not bring any unnecessary suffering into your life. The apostle Paul had hardships, ones in which he despaired of life itself. But, he said, "that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead." (2 Cor. 1:9). So God doesn't waste our suffering as He doesn't bring any needless pain in our life. For a little suffering is a small price to pay to gain faith in God.
Months later, you can see the growth on my jade plant (above). You can still see the incision but in some way it adds to the beauty and character. By God's grace and kindness, may it be true in me too.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Tribute to mom

August was my mom's birthday month. It reminds me of popsicles on the porch and banana splits, ringing phones and our late night "Streets of San Franscisco" TV shows. She was such a joyous dear. A stabilizing glue for us all.

All 4 of her granddaughters carry on her name. My sister's newest, born just a month ago, bears the middle name of Alice. My oldest does also. My sister's big girl's middle name is Elizabeth, my mom's middle name. And our youngest girl, has a middle name of Rose, from a little verse of Amy Carmichael's writing, "From thy briar shall blow a rose for others." From my mom's "thorns," her debilitating physical illness, she was a sweet rose to others. May these girls, the next generation, have the compassion and mercy that my mom had because of her simple faith in the Lord Jesus.

My oldest wrote this about her grandma a few years back--

"My Grandma was a servant of a lady. She would always make banana bread and take it to people who were feeling down. Before my mom was born she taught 4th grade. She was born in Cleveland Ohio. Her grandparents immigrated from Germany.

She always wanted to drive down a road with a canopy of trees. So she got some trees and asked neighbors to buy trees. But the trees were slow growing, so they never really made a canopy.

Grandma liked to stay up late and work. She also liked owls, Dopey and wearing powder that smelled nice. One time she was teaching Sunday School and hit her chest with her hand and a big cloud of smoke went POOF!

She loved to laugh and to play with me. She got some kind of disease and had to go in a wheelchair. She died when I was around 7. I wish I could remember her when she could walk. It was very sad when she died, though joyful at the same time since now she is in heaven and is perfect."

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Old things made new

Our 1986 Nissan Patrol, "Big Red," fits all of us plus some. Patrick's a truck guy and this is a great vehicle to have because people in our country can take old things and make them new.

Yesterday on our return from a beautiful beach about 40 minutes from us, the car overheated. Patrick pulled to the side of the autoroute and within 2 minutes a road assistance car pulled behind us. (Before yesterday, I had never known that yellow road assistance cars existed here!) Patrick and the road man looked under the hood and discovered that the radiator hose broke. So Patrick ripped off the tape that had been holding it together for the past few months (See? If they can't find a part here, they turn old into new! And it had held up through many kilometers!) The car was returned to the correct temperature and the road man had the number for the tow truck.

Within 40 minutes a tow truck pulled up in front and after looking at us all (whole family plus one extra kid) told Patrick that we would need to get a taxi because he didn't have insurance. He changed his mind after Patrick talked his winsome ways with him and we began our ascent up the back of the tow truck. The top of the hook contraption that was pulling us looked like it was re-hammered on the front part of the truck (See? Old things into new!) Patrick's flipant comment, "If that snaps it will come right through the windshield, so duck," didn't quite quiet my fluttering heart! But there were no problems, we were all hooked in, and took off slowly down the highway, perched in Big Red. Two men on donkeys looked and pointed as I'm sure 6 kids, a mom, and no driver (Patrick was in the driver's cab) high in a big red car looked a little quirky. My favorite look was from our 1 1/2 year old neighbor when we drove up our street. He peered out their white curtained windows, looked at us, smiled and waved. He was so enthralled, I laughed out loud and waved back. Quite a day!

So today, Patrick was very cultural and made a new radiator hose out of two old ones. He travelled to a city about an hour away and looked through a junk yard, asked around, and managed to find three hoses that could possibly work. They didn't. He improvised. Hopefully it will work until he can travel to another big city about three hours away. I'm so proud of him always working so hard. And thanks be to God for always providing us manna when we need it and promising that one day He will make all things new.

Monday, July 26, 2010

14 is a lovely age

"14" now belongs to our lovely daughter! I am so thankful for this girl and that God has placed her in our family. May the Lord continue to grow her and show His love to her. We love you big sis!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

We have an 8 year old!

Hooray! June 7th marked JP's 8th year of life. What a privilege it is to be his parents. We did a 8 day countdown beforehand in which he could pick out a different type of ice cream treat, and we marked it on this cake. (My personal favorite was day 3--look at the size of it! I couldn't accurately draw the creaminess either...)
How appropriate to get spider man jammies. On the night before JP was born, Patrick and I had gone to see the 9pm showing of Spider Man in the movie theatres. Then the castor oil kicked in and JP was born at 2AM. Oh my word! Fast and furious is an understatement. Praise God that I didn't chow on the movie popcorn that night! Ugh!
We took a special day trip down to the zoo. I love JP's expressions--he is a lover of life and his face always shows all of his emotions.
A new zoo friend/employee invited us back to see the animals up close...very close...probably TOO close. This lovely, dangerous hippo, a crocodile, and an elephant (that we petted). At the end of the "tour" I realized that he probably wasn't supposed to do this (especially jump into the crocodile display and try to get him to bite a stick! My boys were ready to jump in too when I reminded them that usually a gate in front means, "Don't go in!") but it was quite an adventure for our big boy! May the Lord give our little buddy much growth in wisdom and love for the Lord this year.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A thankful 40th birthday

We went to lunch at my favorite park and restaurant, about a 30 minute drive from our home. A lovely day, lush green grass, a precious family, and fresh air...perfect!

I love their salads--even the kids dig in!
A beef and prune tagine--finger-licking good!
Then we returned, had a worship service in our home with our English-speaking international friends, ate dinner, and then had a little party (pictured above). One gift was a beautiful green kaftan dress.
I'm so thankful for my dear husband who has been a rock for me. I'm also grateful to many of you who wrote kind birthday greetings that I read throughout the day (and cried! I miss you guys!). The Lord reminded me of his faithfulness since my childhood and because He doesn't change, it gives me great hope for the future.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Mice? Nice. Lice? Not nice.

The itching started Wednesday night and then we saw a bug on her forehead at breakfast on Thursday. Poor dear. So, she got a lice treatment and a combing to remove a lot of the critters and eggs that were accumulating. Hopefully the rest of us are clear (though we have been adding tea tree oil to our shampoo as a preventative) and our house will be rid of them in a few days. I don't think her golden locks have ever been so snarl-free!

Now...while lice are yucky..."I think mice are rather nice"

Monday, May 24, 2010

Thoughts from the roof

"It is good to give thanks to the LORD,
to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
to declare your steadfast love in the morning,
and your faithfulness by night."
Psalm 92:1-2

I love our roof. The breezes, the view, the freedom--prayers just flow from that high perch. Maybe it's being closer to the heavens or the small, insignificant-looking humans below but my breath is often taken away after I climb there (it could be the stairs too, I guess!). Lately my prayers, as I'm putting clothes on the line, are deep felt sighs trusting the Spirit to intercede for me in my weakness. Feeling dependent on Him, I glance around. Will we be here tomorrow? Next week? In the fall? I don't know. I sigh again.

Then I remember that James tells us that we are but a mist, here for a short while and then gone. My tomorrows are in His hands even if we lived in a land with more freedom.

I took this picture from the roof when the day was done. I love Psalm 92 which says to declare His faithfulness at night. One way God has been faithful to me during this time is reminding me of His consistency to bring the sun the next day. Elementary, I know. The daily rhythm of the sun reminds me of His love and His faithfulness. When the sun makes it's morning appearance, we remember His steadfast love and that His mercies are new even that day. At it's setting, we remember His faithfulness, both in today and throughout history. What a faithful, sovereign, and loving God we know. Join with me in declaring His faithfulness tonight.

Favorite juice

Hands down, this is our favorite packaged juice here. As you can see, it's a nice blend of pineapple and coconut (and maybe some orange), which satisfies some thirsty kids and their parents. Last week I bought three of these and we drank all of them at one breakfast!
Maybe this funny translation explains why we can guzzle down so many in one sitting--"Fresh and Greedy." We laughed at this and still can't figure out what word choice it should have been. Fresh and fruity? Fresh and inviting? Maybe for this family, greedy is correct. Fill 'er up!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Comic relief

She always makes us smile!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Lord is Near

Pressed beyond measure; yes, pressed to great length,
Pressed so intensely, beyond my own strength,
Pressed in my body and pressed in my soul,
Pressed in my mind till the dark surges roll,
Pressure from foes and pressure from dear friends,
Pressure on pressure till my life nearly ends.

Pressed into knowing no helper but God,
Pressed into loving His staff and His rod,
Pressed into liberty where nothing clings;
Pressed into faith for impossible things.
Pressed into living my life for the Lord,
Pressed into living a Christ-life outpoured.

(This was passed on to me by a lovely saint. I don't know the author, but it must have been someone like Paul who said, "Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead." Come, Lord Jesus.)

Friday, May 7, 2010

Living water in the time of drought

This Psalm has ministered to my heart these last few days. Evil deeds being called good and the light being mocked and jeered. I know that I'm a bit vague...but would you join me in praying through Psalm 64?

64:1 Hear my voice, O God, in my complaint;
preserve my life from dread of the enemy.
2 Hide me from the secret plots of the wicked,
from the throng of evildoers,
3 who whet their tongues like swords,
who aim bitter words like arrows,
4 shooting from ambush at the blameless,
shooting at him suddenly and without fear.
5 They hold fast to their evil purpose;
they talk of laying snares secretly,
thinking, “Who can see them?”

6 They search out injustice,
saying, “We have accomplished a diligent search.”
For the inward mind and heart of a man are deep!

7 But God shoots his arrow at them;
they are wounded suddenly.
8 They are brought to ruin, with their own tongues turned against them;
all who see them will wag their heads.
9 Then all mankind fears;
they tell what God has brought about
and ponder what he has done.

10 Let the righteous one rejoice in the Lord
and take refuge in him!
Let all the upright in heart exult!

(ESV, by Crossway)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A kind provision--I think rice is rather nice!

Our oldest daughter was diagnosed with celiac disease this summer. Her symptoms weren't too severe--a tummy ache now and then--but through a blood test and an endoscopy the doctor diagnosed her in about 3 weeks. (That is a small miracle in itself!) Her treatment is this--no ingesting gluten (wheat, barley, and rye) ever again. It's much better than having to take drugs in my opinion, but a life change nonetheless.

I came back to our country (nicknamed "The bread basket of the world") armed with new recipes, cookbooks, a few non-gluten flours, and a 1980 Vita-mixer powerhorse that we could grind up rice, almonds, etc. We discovered some good recipes that work well here--a delicious almond cake, pancakes, and lemon coffee cake. However, getting the flours mixed (if I ran out of my imported mixes) took a little bit of time. Grinding up the rice and then straining it so that we wouldn't have any chewy bits in our cakes. Mixing the cornstarch and other flours along with my rice flour and a little bit of almond flour (ground through the blender AND the coffee grinder) for some protein. Yep, a little bit of time.

Yesterday I was at the neighborhood corner store and I found this package of ground rice flour! I have never seen these even in the big stores in the big cities! I almost shouted. The manager came out of a side door as I was fingering these bags and I held them up with a big smile and great thanks! He said that they had just come in that day and promised that he will always stock them for me--ground rice flour and rice couscous. Wow! Only a few pennies more than the regular rice I was buying. I feel like these were hand-picked for us to make our days a little smoother. Again, thank you Lord.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Rainy days

It's been a rainy few weeks. Though I'm glad the sun has peeked through between the rain sessions. In fact, one day when we were walking the boys to school, H didn't even want to wear a coat it was so sunny. Thankfully she did because it downpoured on us within minutes after we dropped the boys off. We giggled and walked quickly home. Here are some other happenings on these rainy days...

A happy birthday party for Poppy and a happy un-birthday party for all of us.

B began a wonderful online class through Veritas Press. She had been doing the work on her own last semester, but this semester it's fun to have some discussions with classmates and a godly teacher. We are proud of her.
Building forts with pillows
Saxon math continues regardless of weather!
(His cool shirt choice is due to the fact that his others were dirty or still hanging up wet.
Yep, lots of rain!!)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

A 12 year old in the house!

E is 12! We celebrated at the good old golden arches (the Med sea is in the distance). I'm so thankful for him. He is a hard worker who always likes to be rewarded with chocolate. We love you bud!

Many thanks to Marie

We were so blessed to have Marie in our midst for a month during November. She came over almost everyday and gave the kids piano lessons, spelling, and graded papers. Overall, she encouraged us and made our kids laugh. This video is an excellent example of her smiles and love. (And a cute one of our girlie!)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Someone turned 10!

We happily welcomed this fun-loving lad into the world on December 30, 1999, right before the new century. He was a wiggly baby and that trait continues into boyhood! He attacks his chores at full speed, washing dishes in record time (with some bubbles and food remaining) and then moves on to the next thing. Amazingly, he is quite sensitive too, especially looking out for animals and for his little sister. He is both a little brother and big brother, being in the middle of boys which creates quite a relational experience for him.

He received 2 new parakeets for his birthday and named them Matthew and Martha.

I look forward to seeing how our Lord will mold and develop him and use him for His glory. We love this bud!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Remembering mom on Christmas

My mom loved traditions at Christmas. Making fudge, eating a piece of chocolate when we counted down the days of advent, and drinking hot cocoa when we decorated the Christmas tree. (Bring on the chocolate!) When my sister and I got older she thought it would be fun for just the girls to do an annual Christmas event. One year (1993) we went to the Nutcracker and then she gave Sara and I this little wooden nutcracher as a rememberance keepsake.

His hat and his feet have been reglued and he survived one year when J tried to crack a real nut in him. I love bringing him out at Christmas because he reminds me of my mom AND why Jesus had to come.

"'Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?'
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through
our Lord Jesus Christ."
1 Cor. 15:54b-57

My mom died 5 years ago. Her mortal body is gone but because of her
faith in Christ, her soul lives on in the presence of God. This is all made possible because Jesus came, Immanuel, God with us, and rose from the dead, defeating sin and death. Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns!

So, I think a lot when I see my Nutcracker friend--great memories of
my dear mom and a certain victory in a loving Savior. Let heaven AND nature sing.