Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Dog Days of Summer

I know.  It's not summer anymore, but I took these pictures when it was still summer, and it feels like it could be today.

Besides, it sounded like a clever title.

Toby -

And Tephra -

I'm working on a more substantial post, hopefully to be posted within a day or two. :)

Friday, September 4, 2015


This post is long overdue.  I've been meaning to write it for nearly two weeks, and...haven't.

Chris Tomlin's Unchanging is playing on Pandora.  It's like a lighthouse beacon in swirling mist: my God doesn't change.  He's never overwhelmed.

My mind's been crazy full of all sorts of things - everything from home projects to Sunday School to moving.

And there's my random musings...

I'm feeling old.  Not because I'm scared of my next birthday.  Just because I look around and everyone else is getting older.  For instance, the kids I had in Sunday School as six-year-olds are all grown up.  One is married and has a baby.  Another just went away to Bible School.  Then there was a girl I remember mostly as a high schooler who's now a teacher down in Mexico.  How do they grow up so fast?!

Also, I'm super thankful for friends.  I was laying awake one night thinking of all the wonderful people I've been able to reconnect with since coming back.  It made me realize again the friendship is such an incredible gift from God...to have people to laugh, cry, and pray with; to celebrate milestones together; to encourage and challenge each other; to share this journey called life.  Sometimes just having someone to talk to, just knowing you're not alone, is the best thing to have.

You know what else?  Two years ago this past Wednesday, it was my first day of French class.  It almost seems like that was another life.  So much has happened since then.  I almost laughed when I realized how freaked out I would have been if I only knew where I'd be at the end of those two years!  There's a very good reason God doesn't usually show us the whole plan at once - even if we insist we want to know what's ahead.

- - -
In the middle of last month, I innocently noticed a book on our shelf that I didn't recognize.  Which led to the an incredible discovery: twenty four books I've never read.  (And let me assure you, it is a very rare thing for there to be a book in this house that I haven't read.)  Unfortunately, books are my one weakness, and I can hardly bear to leave so many unread.  Less than three weeks later, I'm over halfway through the stack, so I think there will be no danger of them remaining unread when I move.
Most of them are missionary biographies, with a few other random ones mixed in.  I gotta say, while I positively devoured missionary biographies as a kid, it feels different reading them now.  I laughed and cried with a new understanding - I can relate, 'cause I've now lived that experience too (I mean the overseas missionary experience as a whole, not every different aspect of it).
Reading about the incredible sacrifices some of those pioneer missionaries made is humbling.  I wonder if I could have made it back then.  But I also find myself critical at times - critical of their methods, critical of their ministry's focus, critical of the way their stories are sometimes told as if they were great heroes.  Perhaps it's pride that makes me quick to criticize those who've gone before.  Perhaps it's insecurity.  Perhaps it's forgetfulness.
In the end, it's not about any of us anyway.  In spite of their mistakes or failures...in spite of my mistakes and failures...God is faithful.  He is good.  He guides.  He provides.  He does miracles in spite of us, because that's the kind of God He is.
- - -
Of course I don't spend all my days with my nose stuck in a book.  Far from it.
We have friends over, we eat food, we celebrate milestones, we live our cleaning-shopping-studying-corresponding-everything-else life.
He was rather taken with her. :)
Now that is a very full belly!  He has a very international palate for one so young: samosas, carnitas, Auntie's mafé...
(Mafé was on the menu that night, and he ate quite heartily!)
They look so cute and calm, but don't let them fool you.  They bark ferociously and persistently at the least disturbance.  You know what happened the other night?  Mom and I were sitting watching Sense and Sensibility when a dark shadow slowly crept across the living room wall.  It was a possum walking along our back fence.  (The vile creature!)  Well, Toby and Tephra weren't going to stand for such trespassing.  They dashed out and barked.  And barked.  And barked.  Which, of course, didn't do a bit of good.
- - -
Last week was Beck's birthday - the first one I've been home for in several years, and her last one here for a while.
Yeah.  I know.  My brother-in-law is a goof.
A couple days after Beck's actual birthday, we had a combined party for her and Daniel (whose birthday was all the way back in July, but he had to run off to Ireland...the nerve!).  "Party" makes it sound fancy, which it wasn't.  It was just laid-back, like summer celebrations should be.  Chili dogs-in-a-blanket, grilled veggies, chocolate cake, and ice cream...
He looks like a little frog when he scoots. :)
- - -
Lately I've been reminded that God can be trusted to provide, in one way or another.  It's easy to thank Him for that generous gift from someone I've never met, or for the months when my support level is well above average.  It's equally easy to take for granted the seemingly small ways He provides.  Like $29.99 skirts on clearance for $7.50.  Or free notepads and toiletries.  Or someone unexpectedly paying for my coffee.
It almost seems silly to even mention to them.  But if I truly believe all good gifts come from God, then all of them are worth noticing and thanking Him for.
- - -
Mom's going to make another quilt.  With batiks.  (Because of course!)  If you feel this color palate is familiar, you'd be right.  I think the majority of quilts we've made within last several years have relied heavily on greens and browns.  Another fun fact: each of the quilts we've made in the past say, five years (since I started quilting) have included at least one batik, and at least one fabric from previous quilt we've made.

- - -

My morning buddy:

My favorite. :)

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Everyone Who Leaves

And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold...  (Matthew 19:29)
This is not a long-winded or particularly deep post.  It's just that this verse has come to mind quite a bit over the last several months, and I want to affirm that God - as usual - is faithful to keep His promises.
When He led me to say good-bye to home and family in the States two years ago, I couldn't see too far beyond what I was leaving.  I'm afraid I gave into self-pity more than once.  But, true to His word, He gave me more family.  I gained a sister, two adorable nephews, a sweet grandma, and a whole collection of aunts, uncles, and cousins.
There's some sweet sort of mystery in that promise.  I don't understand it entirely, but I've seen it fulfilled, and that's satisfying enough for me.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Martha, Martha

Today started out an overcast Wednesday morning.

I stared at the clock, then at my to-do list, then back at the clock.  The minutes were ticking, I was accomplishing nothing, and my mind keeping running through everything I had to do this morning, the next week, and two months down the road.

I could feel the anxiety creeping up.  There's just. so. much. to think about right now.

Worried and troubled about many things.

I've found myself in that same place over and over again recently.  I know it's foolish, I know I need to trust the Lord instead of fretting, but...I'll admit, it's too often my default.  Then I started fretting over the fact that I was fretting, and thinking about how I do too much thinking.

A few minutes later, an email showed up in my inbox with a short video by one of my favorite authors.  She said that our souls need to be still, that sometimes we need to just sit and remember that we are in the presence of a God who loves us immensely.

So I thought.

I tuned out the to-do list, if only for a few minutes, and remembered.

I remembered how He's been good and faithful and caring, how He's showered me with love and grace.

Like how not one of my suitcases was overweight on the flight back from West Africa (although they were all perilously close!), and how I made my connecting flight in New York just in time (although the gate area was entirely empty by the time I made it through customs).

Like the rare but delightful thunderstorm when I arrived in California, a welcome present with God's bold signature across it.

Like the emails from NTMers I don't even know personally, saying they're praying for me right now, that they've been through similar transitions and unknowns, and that God has a plan in all this.

...And so many other things, big and small.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


Readjusting.  It comes in many forms...

A case of brain paralysis every time I'm confronted with a menu.  ("Too many choices!  Help me!")

Having a French word or phrase on the tip of my tongue, then realizing it would make no sense to those around me.

Fixing lunch, hearing Dad talk to a stranger out front, and thinking that we need to invite him to eat with us.  ('Cause if someone happens to be around at a meal time, aren't you supposed to invite them to stay?)

Congratulating myself on a successful grocery run entirely on my own...only to realize it's silly to count that a success in my home country.

The amazement of being able to continually understand everything being said around me (along with the wish that sometimes, I wouldn't).

Being astounded at prices, especially of food.

Feeling like I need to dress up somewhat to go out (i.e. wearing something nicer than just a plain t-shirt), but realizing that here, one can wear whatever one feels like wearing to go out.  Even pajamas.  Not that I would do that.  But I digress.

Surprise at many conveniences that are simply taken for granted here.  ("Washing clothes?  Oh, yeah.  There's a machine for that.  Hot water for a shower?  It comes right out of the faucet.")

Being mind-boggled at the sheer variety of things consistently available in a single store, particularly supermarkets...and realizing that it's once again possible to plan a weekly menu with some degree of confidence.

Uncertainty over clothing styles and knowing that - once again! - I probably look out of place.  (Well, that's the story of my life, so I suppose I should be used to it by now.)

Trying to explain a thought or idea and then realizing, "That might have been reasonable in Africa, but it probably sounds crazy to an American, which means I sound crazy."

- - -

It's rather odd: this whole thing of having to adjust to the culture, the place, the life one grew up in.  But hey, if I survived culture adjustment in one direction, I suppose I'll survive it in the opposite direction as well!

As long as I can laugh at myself. :)

Monday, August 17, 2015

Auntie Corner

Pictures have a way of accumulating, and since I haven't featured our little sweetheart here in a while...
It's a bird, it's a plane, it's Super-Malachi!
This was his first experience with a cracker.  In spite of his face, he did actually like it. :)
Food.  It's his one weakness.  (For real - he loves to eat!)
Seriously, that pose...
He's my little morning companion.  He sleeps while I work at my desk.  Sometimes he snores.
But I forgive him, of course, because my heart melts every time I look over at him.
"Caption this.  Go on, I dare you."
He frequently sports a Mohawk...
...And a variety of facial expressions.
I freely admit that I am biased.  But doesn't he melt your heart, too?