Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Listen Up

Need some summer listening with your little people? I did! So I dove into the whirling web of podcast recommendations.  The favorite in our house currently is Brains On.

Click here to see their site.

How do spiders make their webs, living large on the International Space Station, and SO much more. Confession: David downloaded it for his own car rides. The boys love it!

(NOTE: Some of the topics are definitely stemming from a post-modern secular worldview with this podcast. If you're not willing to break in and talk occasionally about evolutional theories, creation order, etc, you may want to skip over this one. We like to listen to it all together. Most of it is just crazy interesting and fun!) 

Another favorite lately is Family Folk Tales by the Nashville Public Library. Click here or find them in iTunes.

If you're a momma, especially a boy mom, tune into The God Centered Mom Podcast this week and listen to Emerson Eggerich talk with Heather about the importance of giving our little men respect as we encourage them toward honorable living.

As long as we're on that boy-mom theme, her podcast {Episode 119} on Nurturing Boys with David Thomas was also fantastic.

Listen up and shoot me an email with your favorite. We love car ride listening! 

Monday, May 30, 2016

Name them one by one

Generally speaking, we love where we live.  That reality is a profoundly gracious gift of God in my life.  It is, without any doubt, a gift. There is very little, in my natural bent, that would draw me to the place where we've thrived for these past few years.  Yet, I can steadily maintain that it has been a place of tremendous bounty for us.

The truth is though, as the grief of this loss is processed and the time comes to push forward, a general relief washing over me.  I won't miss everything here.  The stares. The bulky clothing. The blazing heat. The crazy traffic.  The confined spaces. The grocery store shoving.  The demands of the culture.  The multitude of languages. The cheek pinchers. The smells. Oh, the smells. 

With an August departure on the horizon, I admit that more than a little negativity is creeping into my heart and flying out of my mouth.  It is reminding me that one of the reasons we can say this was a place of bounty is that, very early on, the Father put a strong conviction in my heart that I would do better not to speak out with every annoyance and frustration.  Honest processing can be a clever cover for a complaining spirit. I certainly haven't done that perfectly, but the warnings from those Old Testament Israelites has been very present in my mind. Grumbling brings all kinds of grief. 

This weekend the heat was up, the kids were wild, the uncertainty of all kinds of details in these next few months was weighing heavy.  My house helper quit. Hubs was flying out on a trip. I just couldn't seem to break out of it.  A conversation came to mind that I had not long ago with dear, Laurin, who's had her share of transitions and pressing details. 

She reminded me recently of the very simple antidote to complaint: thanksgiving.  

Name those blessings one by one. Speak out gratitude until it takes root in your heart and mind.  Look at that fussing baby, who just happened to pour milk all over the floor, and give thanks for eyes to dry and a floor to clean. When that tiny Asian lady pushes right in front of you in the grocery, give thanks for the money to buy the food.  When the work feels too much, give thanks for the work to do and put your head down to get it done, with gratitude not complaint. 

Count your blessings, name them one by one. 

See what God has done. 

Thursday, May 26, 2016


The heat peaked and seems to be slowly receding as the rains pour in from the coast.  The storms continue and we've seen more wind damage this month than in the past 4.5 years in the city.  Thankfully, some of the trees are still in full bloom in spite of it all. Hubs sent me this pic from the village this week.  Don't you just want a book and a bench underneath? Oh wait.  Except even with the cooler weather, it is still 100 degrees at noon!

Have I ever told you how much I love the little Camera+ app? Cuteness like this loves a good clarity boost! It's my favorite for pics that have a lot of detail that I want to see.  I use the clarity filter a lot to take pictures of the kids' art work too….keeping that paper trail small for our traveling crew. 

Speaking of cuteness, I made my first photo booth for the Space Station Extravaganza.  Black poster and chalk.  It was a hit! This is totally a pinterest steal…but the kids loved it! Ok, the adults loved it too. 

Those are my tidbits for you this Thursday! Go grab some chalk and a black poster board.  Have some fun. 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars...

Jude is a week shy of the big SIX!!! And he is completely obsessed with the solar system. He also vacillates between the career choices of scientist and olympiad. Silas would like to be an astronaut robot: this means he can robot into any other profession, usually a spy, at will. I digress.

Jude wants to have a solar system birthday party. (Sure. Let me just run to the party supply store and pick those paper plates up.)

I'm thinking a rocket cake and planet games?  He's been exposed to Pinterest only in mild doses so I think we will be ok. In the meantime, every drawing is of outer space and today I found the planets lined up on the dining room table.

Do I even need to write it? This party's gonna be "out of this world!" 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


August is coming.  The visa process is in full swing.  We've arranged to sell our entire house of furniture, toys, and kitchenware to one family. (How's that for simplifying things?!) I've combed through every cabinet in the house to remove the excess and tuck away what will fly off with us.  All that's left are the bookshelves.  I always have trouble with books.  It's like giving away old friends.  

When I'm old, if God ever allows me to settle into those rolling Tennessee hills, I'm going to have a small house that's nothing but bookshelves surrounded by trees.  

For now, I'm allowing myself two suitcases -- eighty pounds of books.  

Surely I can manage. 

Even with an impending move on the horizon, if you knew how many books had been delivered to my house just this past month, you would laugh heartily.  It's like an addiction.  And don't talk to me about a kindle. I have one. We actually have a few. It's not the same.  

This process has highlighted for me something that I always seem to re-discover about myself when a move is on my horizon.  

I hate change. 

I really hate it.  

But I love it too. 

There's something in me that does love a good adventure.  I just can't outgrow a bit of restlessness and yet I can't overcome my propensity toward routine, order and familiarity either.  I suspicion this will be a lifelong tension. Some things are like that. 

It occurred to me that a few of you might be wondering where "onward' is for us. I'm still getting used to it myself.  The surprise hasn't really worn off.  If we had made a list of 20 countries we thought we might end up in, I doubt it would have made the list.  

And yet, the more I think about it, the more excited I become. 


Friday, May 13, 2016

Beyond all measure

He whose heart is kind beyond all measure
Gives unto each day what He deems best
Lovingly it's part of pain and pleasure
Mingling toil with peace and rest.

--Lina Sandell

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

hair friends

Our first case of head lice. I'm glad it just came now...it might have taken me 6 years of motherhood to prepare myself for this. 

Thankfully, I have boys. So I took what seemed the most reasonable course of action, I shaved his head. And then we pulled out that lice kit I lugged over 4.5 years ago. 

It's gonna take me a while to recover from this one. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Long Story Short

Here's what we are reading around our table this summer:

It's a perfect 5-10 minute daily journey through the Bible. We aren't worrying about the weeks and days, we are just plodding through at our own pace. 

If you're looking for an easy summer devo start up with your little people, check it out!

(I would recommend this for ages 4+)

Monday, May 9, 2016

Mother's Day 2016

 Mother's Day Card from Jude
 "The Kiss"  

"Mom" drawn by Silas 

Friday, May 6, 2016

A storm

Last night we had a big storm. It hit at 3:30 am when we were all tucked safely in our beds. It was strong enough to be intense even from inside a concrete building. Water and wind were finding their way inside, and we are sealed pretty tight as far as houses go.

We bowed down low to pray for the poor that live all around us. Their houses are made of bamboo and tarp. 

When we went out this morning to see what the light would show, there were 2 concrete walls that had blown over in our complex, tree limbs scattered everywhere, signs had come off buildings, and several billboards were literally shredded. 

As we drove around, we noticed that almost all of the tents, small tin stores and carts that are literally the daily bread of the poor in our neighborhood...they were hardly damaged. Our brother went over to check on a slum nearby, and their houses had withstood the storm. There was a lot of drying out to do, but it could have been so much worse. 

It's a small thing and it can hardly be assessed with accuracy. But I have walked around all day, marveling at God's provision for so many of the poor in our city last night. 

And as a major bonus, the lakes that were almost dry have water again. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2016


It's my little sister's birthday.  I wish I could give her a big hug and sit in her kitchen watching the kids go crazy together. 

Circa. 1987
L to R: Laura, Mamaw, Lindsey & Crystal (cousin)

I've been pretty homesick lately. And a lot of it centers around Lindsey. There's just something about a sister. When we are old and our hair is white, if God allows, we'll still get tickled by the same ridiculous things.  We'll still tell the same stories from our childhood.  Remember the same family vacations and camping trips on the Tennessee River.  Look back in wonder at the week we both checked into the hospital and had baby #3 right there in our hometown. And one day, I hope we'll think back on this season of life apart and remember how distance really did make the heart grow fonder.  How we came to appreciate the sisterhood in an entirely new way.  

Through all this distance, my sister has been a most faithful friend.  Here's 31 more years of sister love! 

Happy Birthday, Sis! 

Monday, May 2, 2016

road trip

 It is the custom here to return to your native village to mark the one year anniversary of a parent's death.  We were in the US last year when a close friend lost his father.  So hubs went along this weekend for the journey into the hillside.  Here are a few pics from village life.