27 March 2015

84/365

Catalog Day!!  I wasn't expecting it to arrive so soon but there it was, sitting on the pile of today's mail. Do you have kids between newborn and 80 years old? You need the Sonlight catalog too.

Sonlight has been our primary homeschool humanities curriculum for almost 15 years. We could not be more blessed. The instructor manuals are a tremendous help, mapping out the year in manageable and well sequenced order. I believe that heart that the curriculum shows for missions and the world profoundly influenced our own desire to pursue cross-culture missions. Our graduates have been well prepared for life beyond high school, achieving excellent scores on standardized tests and succeeding in college.

But even if you don't homeschool, I recommend the Sonlight catalog to you as one of the very best reading lists for toddlers to adult. Through Sonlight my kids were introduced to some of my favorite friends- Frog and Toad, Beezus and Ramona and Henry Huggins, the Ingalls family, the Cricket in Times Square, Betsy and Tacy and Tib, and Encyclopedia Brown. Together we met missionaries to Burma and to India and to Africa and to the streets of New York City. We traveled through history with togas and Vikings and colonists and adventurers and ordinary kids in their time and place. We read about the customs and cultures and traditions of faraway places, ancient and modern both, in the context of literature and narrative and biography, not solely through the monologue of a textbook. At the older grade levels, the lists take the students through the "highlights and hallmarks" of American literature, the world classics old and new, and the authors every reader should know.

But the best measure of success, more than the test scores and good grades? My girls still squabble over the newest catalog- each wanted to get her hands on it to remember all the old favorites and see what might be ahead in the school year to come. Sonlight has helped to inspire a love of learning in my kids, and for that I am grateful and blessed.

Needless to say, we are fans. For more information and to check out this tremendous resource for yourself, check the Sonlight website. Or just ask us!

26 March 2015

83/365

"Lord Jesus, well beyond this current season of Lent, continue to smite my heart with more of your glory and your grace. I want to boast much more in your righteousness than in my being right. Strengthen my heart with your grace. Continue to feed me from the altar in the tabernacle of the gospel. Though I know you only in part, you know me perfectly, and that is enough. I pray in your peerless and powerful name. Amen."
- from "A Prayer about Being Smitten with Jesus," in Everyday Prayers by Scotty Smith

25 March 2015

82/365

Cold Mexican Coke
Bottle cap flying off.
Cane sugar sweetness.

81/365

So maybe the field wasn't quite in World Cup condition... the stickers, the pond from recent rains, the horses staked next to the goal. Maybe the players weren't quite World Cup mentality-  the sweet tea cup splashing ice as he ran. And maybe the ball was a bit flat, sounding a thud across the field as it hit the ground. But the day was tremendous and the sky was fairy tale blue with cotton ball clouds. We laughed out loud and cheered and jeered with broad smiles that transcend every language barrier. There was no place else any of us wanted to be than right there.

79/365

The trip east to the Island started with a detour for conchas and donuts. The haze kept the spring break crowd away for a good while, at least long enough for us to remember what blessing living near the beach truly is.

78/365

Just-right late spring evenings, a crowd of friends, a couple cousins, two van-fulls of snacks, and a couple really good movies on a drive-in screen (and what?! sitting on the top of the van?!), not to mention the providence of having jumper cables in the back and two super helpful guys to hook us up and get us back among the living when it was all over- THIS must be living very well!

77/365

I looked around and realized we may have passed a milestone. Four teens shopping without complaining, agreeing on a restaurant, enjoying each other's company, and I enjoying theirs as well. These are the years that we have been waiting on...

76/365

We started the pre-dawn road trip in the most usual way, at the gas station for a fuel fill-up and breakfast tacos to sustain us. The roadside remained shrouded by a heavy blanket of fog, the bright overhead lights merely cloudy beacons in the mist. We marveled at the heaviness of the darkness around us, normal roadside markers shrouded by the dense haze. Thankfully the only casualty was my pants, dotted and splattered with salsa verde that finally revealed itself in the mid-morning light.

74/365

Don't burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don't quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.
Romans 12:11-13 (The Message)

Thankful for friends to share Sunday lunch, for friends who share their best with us, and for a generous share of Sabbath rest.

73/365

Even if it doesn't have a radius of 3.14, this Strawberry Rhubarb slab goodness is still a pretty great representative of Pi Day 2015!

72/365

The polka rhythm of the Tejano tunes crossed the street, the accordion and the deep bass echoing across the parking lot. Does a traveling carnival have a soundtrack for every region they visit?

12 March 2015

71/365

The cows stared at us, obviously unaccustomed to a 12 passenger van rolling behind their otherwise quiet and secluded back pasture. They weren't the only ones questioning our presence. Driving that hulk of a van on top of a canal, I had my doubts as well...

I imagined the conversation with my husband-
"Um, the van is in the canal."
"WHAT?!"
"Well, the road was muddy, REALLY muddy, and I didn't want to get stuck, but I couldn't really turn around, and I kept driving, but I couldn't stop, and..."

Thankfully it all ended well.

Maybe it was that burst of sunshine and blue skies and wide open windows for the first time in a week that gave us a sense of invincibility? Maybe it was a touch of Spring Fever? Maybe it was peer pressure? Whichever, we stopped to take a picture, traversed those last few yards of canal, and laughed until the (*ahem*) cows came home.

:-)

70/365

Oh Daylight Savings Time, you poseur. I can't keep track if I am falling forward or tripping backward or going in whatever direction you tell me to change. You keep telling me that you are here to help, but I don't see it. All I know is that you kicked my bee-hind on Saturday night, and wake up time certainly seemed awfully early on Sunday, and Monday wasn't yet quite right either. By Wednesday I should have had you figured out, but my regular morning run seemed much more dusky than it did a week before. It seemed like I turned off the streetlights as I passed them by, clicking off one after another as if I was flipping off the switches for the day ahead. Why can't we just leave things be?

69/365

Homemade tamales and posole and arroz and frijoles negros and enchiladas (and BBQ chicken and Church's) and ensalada de pollo and ensalada macaroni and chicharrones and rayas de cebolla y poblanos en queso and two kinds of Jello salad and two kinds of cake with whipped cream frosting.

And my students, who persevere and keep on trying to master this crazy English language, and opportunity on opportunity to love and to be loved. I remain so thankful for Tuesday evenings.

68/365

my One a Day.

09 March 2015

67/365

I tiptoed through the wet grass and bent down close, the hem of my skirt and the canvas of my shoes damp. "It might be the prettiest thing that happens today," I told my questioning observers. 

It was pretty, but it wasn't the loveliest thing, after all. Later, there were the saints gathered to sing hymns of the faith, and the youth lined up to lift their voices. But that single photo was blurry and out of focus, kind of like me at the end of a very full weekend. It will have to be a memory.

66/365

May God, who puts all things together, makes all things whole,
Who made a lasting mark through the sacrifice of Jesus, the sacrifice of the blood that sealed the eternal covenant,
Who led Jesus, our Great Shepherd, up and alive from the dead,
Now put you together, provide you with everything you need to please him,
Make us into what gives him most pleasure, by means of the sacrifice of Jesus, the Messiah.
All glory to Jesus forever and ever!

Hebrews 12:20-21 (The Message)

65/365

The cross focuses on the utter spiritual poverty of human beings and locates our righteousness in Christ alone. The cross is an offense because it proclaims the weakness, the ungodliness, and the inability of human beings to please God. It calls on us to place all our hope for righteousness in Christ, and such a message is a great scandal for all who worship themselves and are entranced with their ability. Perseverance, then, is nothing other than grasping the scandal of the cross until the day we die.
- Thomas Schreiner, Run to Win the Prize (2010)

clinging as tightly as I am able.

05 March 2015

64/365

If you are sufficient for your task, it's too small. 
- John Piper

63/365

"We're starting to look at heaven in a different light. The Puritans spent so much time talking about heaven. Jason recently heard a sermon that said the reason for so much materialism in our world right now is that we've taken our eyes off of heaven and we're looking for this place to be the comfort that it is not."
- Kara Tippets, in "Dying with Grace," ByFaith magazine, Q1.15

I spent the afternoon with my friends. He is in hospice care at home, sitting up in his wheelchair and out of bed for the first time in a couple of weeks. We listened to discussion about paperwork and care providers. We watch the muted tv screen, stealing glances at silly adults dressed up for Let's Make a Deal and laughing at the plaintiff ordered by Judge Judy to spit out her gum. We muttered out loud prayers that a strong man would be available to help him back into bed. Tommy, a gentle hulk of a man, arrived as an answer- and with a strong step and miraculous turn, danced him back to bed. We set up the Caring Bridge site, and enjoyed one another. I left with a smile of thankfulness.

The air felt warm today, and seemed to mock the warning of the cold front to come. On the way back down the county road, the sunflowers called me over. I pulled off onto the shoulder, clicked on the flashing hazard lights, and waded through the tall grass. The flowers wave and sway in the breeze and never quite stop still to pose. They are a bright spot, but they are temporal. Already their petals are drying up and their leaves are beginning curl and sag.

I, too, am starting to look at heaven in a different light.

04 March 2015

62/365

Ordinary day.
Ordinary grace.

61/365

The guest (whether she comes in the form of a stranger, a neighbor, a long-awaited friend, or even my own daughter) is an interruption. To extend hospitality is always to open the door to disruption in some form. 
- Christie Purifoy in "Unlearning the Art of Hospitality," from Art House America blog

Thankful for those who open their doors and share so generously, allowing me and mine to disrupt their lives. We smiled all the way to dreamland.