Tuesday, April 30, 2013


This week we are hanging out at a language conference in a coastal town.  Most of our time has been indoors, listening and learning.  But we're a 5 minute walk from the beach, so we've been taking advantage of our 5:30am rowdy boys to explore a bit before the conference.  Jude loves that wild roaring water. 

Just in case you're wondering if I'd like to move this way. See that haze you over the ocean? That's 100 degrees of 100% humidity hanging in the air. I'm glad to stop in for a week, but I'll be more than ready to get back to my 110 degree dry heat soon! Perspective attained. 

{ a morning swim }
{ balcony palm view / beach boardwalk }
{ airport cargo / curiosity / street side beauty }

Monday, April 29, 2013

Learning to Sing, Part II

Fast forward a few years from these years.  I'm in high school now, and I go to choir almost every Sunday afternoon.  For the most part, I sit next to Amanda and we get in trouble with Jamie Parker for excessive talking.  I am learning to love the words to the songs, songs that take root in my heart and begin to express a new depth of spirituality that I am growing into. I am finding Christ to be my redeemer. I want to sing about it. Instinctively I know that my lips were made to praise Him.

But I still carry around that little lie from so many years before.

It's true, He is worthy of praise.  But He must want good praise, praise from soloists and natural talents. Not praise from someone like me.  Someone who would like to sing the right notes, but isn't sure they'll come out quite right.

So I stand in practices and I mouth words.  And sometimes Amanda leans in to try to listen, and we laugh and say that I must be the quietest singer ever.  Which is ironic, since I wasn't really known for quietude among my friends in those days.

There's another story that stands out in my mind as vividly as elementary school choir with Susannah.

One day, Marjo sits next to me.  Her mom sings opera.  She knows how to sing. So I sing soft, soft, soft, because it's a bit of a privilege to be friends with Marjo and I'd rather not drive her away with off-key notes. Then I notice that Marjo puts her finger up to her ear...on my side.

I am aware this is some sort of singing help when trying to make sure you're on pitch, but deep in my heart I think, "I must be Susannah to her.  She can't stand to listen to me sing. It's so bad she has to cover her ears." Nevermind that I'm not singing loud enough for anyone to hear anyways.

And the lie goes deeper and wider.

Years later, I am still friends with Marjo and I tell her the story and we laugh and laugh.  But I wasn't laughing then.  Not because of Marjo, but because of the lie down deep.

It's the lie that praise is about me and my voice, not God and His glory.  It's an ugly and selfish lie.  It's easy to believe because it seems humble and lowly.  But it's really filled with egocentrism.

I've years ahead yet.  But slowly I begin to sense that the lie is just that - a lie.  I hear the words to the songs, whispered by me and shouted by others. I sing in off-the-path places.  Places of safety where I know I am loved already. Places where I hope that maybe I have a voice after all.  And thankfully, oh so thankfully, the words from those songs - the true ones - the begin to dig out the lie and lead me into a place of truth.

It is a place of freedom.  A place in His presence, where there is fullness of joy.

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Friday Five

1. I got home in the wee hours last night and peeked in on those boys of ours.  They look like they've grown a foot.  But I know that was just my momma heart growing in love over the distance.  I am glad to be back, albeit pretty tired after just one day back in the routine.  

2. Silas took his first succession of steps for me today, as a welcome home gift.  He's still pretty wobbly, but he's heading toward upward mobility.  And he uses anything and everything as a walker....including Jude's cricket bat:) 

3. Jude got a whistle today.  He calls it his "trumpet" and has been imitating the guards at our gate all afternoon. He told me when he gets big he'll whistle at cars like they do. 

4. I finally put feet today behind something I've wanted to do for a long time.  I made a Memphis clock....so I can stop feeling desperately confused every time I try to call someone in the states. I thought this little jewel was pretty cute for $4 too! 

 5. Hubs birthdayed me tonight.  Dinner, cupcakes, gifts, the whole nine yards. (Well, as far as nine yards go with 2 kids and a crazy travel schedule!) Our city is known for its pearl trade...so hubs gave me a strand of brown pearls.  Did you even know pearls could be brown? Love it!

Next week, we'll be in airports again.  Thankfully...all of us will be together.  And though plenty of meetings are scheduled, there will be a beach in sight! 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

celebrating 33

A burger from Hard Rock, time with a sweet college friend, and a bitty cup of delicious yogurt.

Happy Birthday to me!

The real celebration will be when I see those sweet boys!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

In Transit

I'm planning to finish my story soon but tonight my brain's a bit too full. The time away is bringing fresh perspective. A good gift.

But let's be honest, when I heard that sweet little voice on the phone tonight, I wanted to fly straight home! Distance makes the heart grow...

Monday, April 22, 2013

Learning to Sing: Part 1

This week is full of unchartered territory for me.

A new city in a foreign.  No hubs or babies along. A conference full of not many familiar faces. And I have my guitar along. I'll be leading worship for a smallish group of ladies each morning.

I don't know that I've ever written about my guitar. But I am going to this week. It's a story I think I'd like to tell, perhaps for my sake as well as yours. I'll be celebrating my 33rd this week, which makes this story over 20 years old.  One of the primary joys for me in aging is the ability to gain a bit of perspective on life.  The pattern's been weaving long enough now that I'm starting to see some of the beauty instead of just tangled chaos. This is one of those areas.

Back in the days of leg warmers and scrunchies, I attended Ridgeway Elementary.  I was in 5th grade and there was a red headed boy named David Sink who always told me I looked like a monkey.  I was in choir at school. I remember little from that year besides my very sweet music teacher, Mrs. Bledsoe, whom I ironically still keep in touch with on occasion.  Those intriguing xylophones that I always wanted to play.  And a girl in choir with me named Susannah.

When Mrs. Bledsoe would commence class, we would sing.  Not very difficult songs.  I don't remember starting out especially insecure about my voice, but I was quite shy and doubt I sang very loudly.  Susannah, on the other hand, was not at all shy and sang quite loudly.

Even to the untrained ear of a eleven year old, she was a terrible singer.

She sounded like a train wreck.  But she had no idea.  She just sang louder and louder.  And it's probable that I dropped my mouth and stared.  We were friends so she sat nearby.  Every day in class, I would listen to her sing and wonder how she could be so completely oblivious to the actual sound projecting from her mouth. I thought she'd be better off joining the band or something.

I don't know what ever happened to Susannah.  Maybe she eventually got voice lessons. Maybe she plays the tuba. Maybe she's still out there, singing her heart out completely off key.

But as 5th grade music class wore on, week after week, a thought crept into my mind.  If Susannah could be such a terrible, no good singer and not know it, I might be too.

So I started to sing softer just in case.  And eventually the thought grew so big that I barely sang at all.

Many years have passed now, and the juvenile nature of the whole scenario is more than a bit amusing. But the reality of the power I gave that one little thought over a voice that God created is not.  God made me to praise Him.  And I've been on a journey toward that since He gave me breath.

This week, guitar in hand, I'm stepping and perhaps stumbling a bit closer to that creation reality.  It will be a pressing week for me in that regard.  But I hope a fruitful one.

And in 20 years more, I hope I'm still stepping and stumbling a bit closer yet.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Friday Five

It's Friday.  Here's a random five for you! 

1. I had forgotten this stage: the age of destruction.  If Silas can tear it up, rip it out, pull it down....he does.  Still no real steps to speak of, but let me assure you, he has no trouble getting around. 

2. We're living off of love around here.  My mom brought all sorts of American goodies in those big suitcases, and we're savoring every bit.  Here's to some Dinstuhls goodness my Dad sent and a full case of Peanut Butter M&Ms! 

3. Still peaking at 105-108 degrees around here. And we've been at the pool almost every day.  In case you're wondering, I'm still donning my stylishly modest swimwear from last year:)  And rockin' it with a farmers tan you wouldn't believe!

4. Next week, David will be playing super-dad.  I'll be at a women's conference in another city for four days.  And David will be Mr. Mom.  I have been considering installing in-home cameras just so I can see the hilarious madness that will ensue.  Hubs is such a good sport. I've no doubt it will be unprecedented fun for all.  Though I do predict I'll receive a hearty welcome home:) 

5. While I'm away, I'll be perusing a few books in all that baby-free time.  Give Them Grace by Fitzpatrick was a recent gift from my sweet sis-in-law, Lisa. It's at the top of my list! 

Happy Friday to you! 

Thursday, April 18, 2013


I've been thinking a lot about Boston this week.

It's the contrast that's been especially moving me.

Runners who ran with bold perseverance.  Who worked hard for a victory that is no small feat in the physical realm.  Time and energy and heart poured out for something that historically has been acknowledged in our nation as a noteworthy and honorable accomplishment.  Family who cheered around them and said by their presence that perseverance and discipline matter.

And then there was cowardice.  Indescribable cowardice that slinks away.  Leaving the repurcussions to fall where they may with no regard for the other.   The very opposite of bold perseverance. Hidden and dark, as cowardice always is.

As often happens when violence interrupts what should have been beautiful and victorious, my head is bent,  I wonder at the world around me.  I shudder over it.  And sigh wondering if the victory of good will ever be real and complete.

There's been a song pouring through my memory as I've pondered my small thoughts over an event that was mammoth for the families involved. An old favorite of mine by David Wilcox. And I've been grateful that even yet, we can rest in confidence that love indeed will show the way...

You say you see no hope, you say you see no reason
We should dream that the world would ever change
You're saying love is foolish to believe
'Cause there'll always be some crazy with an Army or a Knife
To wake you from your day dream, put the fear back in your life...

Look, if someone wrote a play just to glorify
What's stronger than hate, would they not arrange the stage
To look as if the hero came too late he's almost in defeat
It's looking like the Evil side will win, so on the Edge
Of every seat, from the moment that the whole thing begins
It is...

Love who makes the mortar
And it's love who stacked these stones
And it's love who made the stage here
Although it looks like we're alone
In this scene set in shadows
Like the night is here to stay
There is evil cast around us
But it's love that wrote the play...
For in this darkness love can show the way

So now the stage is set. Feel you own heart beating
In your chest. This life's not over yet.
so we get up on our feet and do our best. We play against the
Fear. We play against the reasons not to try
We're playing for the tears burning in the happy angel's eyes
For it's...

David Wilcox, Show the Way

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

nan nan

airport goodbyes / bumper cars / 
 early b-day celebrations /
race track mat / nap time kisses / kindle fun
elmo cupcake / ayala bar earrings (yay) / 
 silas love / smiles

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Children's Museum

I ran across a random article in our city magazine last week about a children's museum.  I was skeptical.   It didn't seem likely that it would exceed my expectations, even my realistically asian expectations.  But it wasn't far from our house and my mom was in town to adventure with us.  So with hubs out of town for a few days, we decided to load up in a rickshaw, in 110 degree heat, and head out.

Expectations exceeded.  

It was fantastic.  A new addition to Jude's favorite places, and mine.  Definitely smaller than your average children's museum in the states but surprisingly clean, creative (air-conditioned:) and well placed.  The best part is that it's in our part of town. Hooray!

Here are a few pics:

Thursday, April 11, 2013

grandma love

Almost 24 hours in the air for just a few short days with these boys. That's some serious grandma love! Yay!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

grace upon grace

And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.
John 1:16 {esv}

"Sometimes, when we are distressed by past failure and tormented by fear of failure in the future should we again set our faces toward Jerusalem, nothing helps so much as to give some familiar scripture time to enter into us and become part of our being. The words "grace for grace" have been a help to me since I read in a little old book of Bishop Moule's something that opened their meaning.  (Til then I had not understood them.)  
He says "for" means simply "instead": "grace instead of grace." The image is of a perpetual succession of supply; a displacement ever going on; ceaseless changes of need and demand. 
The picture before us is as of a river, Stand on its banks, and contemplate the flow of waters.  A minute passes, and another.  Is it the same stream still? Yes.  But is it the same water? No.  The liquid mass that passed you a few seconds ago fills now another section of the channel; new water has displaced it, or if you please, replaced it; water instead of water.  And so hour by hour, and year by ear, and century by century, the process holds; one stream, other waters - living, not stagnant, because always in the great identity there is perpetual exchange.  Grace takes the place of grace {and love takes the place of love}; ever new, ever old, ever the same, ever fresh and young, for hour by hour, for year by year, through Christ."
Amy Carmichael, If

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

summer morning

This little rock is one of the many reasons we're glad our little abode is on the outskirts of the city. It's Jude's favorite spot for train gazing. He calls it "the mountain."

I call it a good way to get that boundless energy out!

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Monday Miscellany

1.  Remember that slightly shady kabob place that we frequent and love? Add it onto the menu for another night.  I made the most successful re-mix of an American restaurant thus far using fired kabobs and rumali roti.  A nearly Qdoba chicken burrito that'll make you think you've hit Germantown Road rather than the Siddique kabob stall! Hooray! 

2. I just need to occasionally re-write this one little line.  Sundays here are just plain crazy.  Silas and the crowd back in the kids' room are becoming better acquainted.  He likes to crowd dive. It's out of control. 

3. Last week I was heavy on closet organization. A friend gave me her old plastic shelves. New life to my hectic closets. Of course, the projects weren't without their hitches. I poured the contents of my craft closet on the floor one day in time for nap time....only to find that my ever reliable nappers were taking a day off.  

4. Have I ever mentioned that I love Fernando Ortega's music.  I do.  This little re-make of a favorite hymn by one of the deep influences of my life, writer E. Prentiss, is something I'd like running in my mind day after day. 

 5. And for this week? A surprise visitor! That's right....much to our delight a quick visit from my mom is in just a few days.  She booked a ticket yesterday, and I cheered.  Only a grandma would consider joining in our {106 degree, no pre-school & a climbing baby} fun!

Friday, April 5, 2013

bollywood & me

Yesterday was Jude's last day of pre-school for the year.  He has a two month summer break.  And we're looking forward to lots of time at the pool, lego creations and maybe even a few preschool craft projects.

Tonight was an end of the year party for kids and moms.  The theme was 60s attire and I took my style from the only place I knew to look, Bollywood in the 60s.  Big hair, lots of eye liner, and a bright sari.

The party was complete with hula hooping ladies (I definitely did not hula hoop, lest my precariously wrapped sari be lost), chip eating contests, a fashion show, and dancing.  Jude, my little introvert, was not all that impressed...except with the samosas and juice boxes. 

There's my night with Bollywood for you!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

monkey business

Even in a city of 9 million, inside a complex with electric fencing designed to prohibit such occurrences, monkeys and asia just belong together. See that speck up on about the 4th floor? He was our afternoon entertainment today.

Last we saw, the maintenance crew was trying to coax him down with bananas.

You just never know what will happen next in Dawkins-land, do ya?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Andy Catlett

I've been reading Wendell Berry's Andy Catlett this week, to my great delight. It was a gift for David from a Mississippi friend. But, as is usually the way, I stole it first. I think I find Berry extra-ordinarily fascinating in this season of my life because I live in a world where the dichotomy between the old and the new are ever before me.

In the US, most of society has moved fully into the modern age. Except for pockets scattered about, you'll rarely see a horse and buggy or an untouched sort of reminder of time before engines whirred and mechanization overtook. That is not so in South Asia. Even in this city where I live, with 9 million others, it is not at all uncommon to find a man on a camel, riding through the streets beside cars and motorcycles. Bicycles are as common on the road as large trucks. One of David's best friends pushes his fruit stand over a mile each morning and evening to his post.

Berry reminds me to see this dichotomy. And a bit of what it represents. Here's a passage from Part III that I found especially poignant. Andy is remarking on the difference he noticed as a young boy when he went from a visit with one grandfather, who still drove a cart and mule, to a visit with his other grandfather who fetched him in a car.

"And I noticed something else. The car was not only easier and faster than the team and wagon. It gave a new aspect and a new motion to the world. The wagon passed through the country at a speed that allowed your eyes to come to rest. Whatever you wanted to look at in the road or ditch or the fencerow or the field beyond, your sight could dwell on and you could see it. But from the side window of Grandaddy's car where I was looking out, the country seemed to be turning by like a great wheel. The rim of the wheel, at the roadside, was turning so fast that everything was a blur. To pick out a detail - one fencepost, one rock, one tree trunk - was impossible. The effort to do so made me feel cross-eyed and kind of sick. Farther away, the wheel turned more slowly and you could look at things, you could stop them in your eyes, but the smaller details were getting lost. Even farther away, as if near the wheel's hub, things seemed hardly to be moving, but there were no details at all, just the vague blue ridges way off there as if in a different world. And that, as I now know, would be the new world, the "world of the future," which to most people in it would be hazy and without detail, way off in the distance."

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


Jude is a few weeks shy of his 3rd birthday.  And he's brimming with personality these days.  For the sake of posterity, I wanted to record a bit of what's going on in his world these days.

Cultural & Literary Interests

He's still into Lightening McQueen and Mater.  Handy Manny & Thomas the Train are favs too.  This week we checked out The Tale of Peter Rabbit from the library.  He's enamored (and I confess that this momma is too.  Beatrix Potter was born to write children's literature!).

Queries (on Easter Morning) 

"Jude, today we're celebrating that Jesus is risen!"

"Momma. That's great! Are we going to visit him?"

And why not?

Favorite Games

Wrestling with Silas. Closing the door in Silas's face. Prohibiting Silas from going into the bathrooms. Hugging Silas. Asking for "space" from Silas. Swimming with Silas.

Do you notice a theme here?

In a recent conversation I asked who his best friend was these days.  "My brother." Love it.

On Church

We've noticed that Jude has taken to building himself a stage, which he calls a "cage" on which he loudly performs all manner of asian dialect and english worship songs.  One of his recent car favorites is Toby Mac and "I don't want to gain the whole world..."  He refers to our pastor simply as "The Christian." We have no idea why.  He repeatedly imitates what "The Christian" might do at any given moment. And his "worship" stance is nothing short of....well, I'll give you a little sample or two.

There's your Jude moments for the week:) 

Monday, April 1, 2013

A Coconut Cake

When I was growing up, my grandmother always made a coconut cake for Easter.  And I hardly ever ate a piece.  It just wasn't my thing.  But for the past month or so, I've just been craving a bite of that two layer wonder that she would fix days beforehand so it could "set."

Since it just wasn't possible to make it out to the farm for an Easter with Mamaw, I tried my hand at a simpler version for a little get together yesterday.  I used this recipe by Glorious Treats for the cake. Took a few tips on the "soaking" from this recipe.  And finished it off with a cream cheese icing sprinkled with shredded coconut.

In the absence of Mamaw, it did not disappoint.

 Hope you had a joyful resurrection celebration!