May 18, 2017

It is an honor

I stood at the front of the congregation last Sunday. Mothers were lined up to my left, and mothers were lined up to my right. Shoulder-to-shoulder we stood, the front line of an army, a chorus of heralds, a chain, a wall. Our deft fingers held long stemmed roses, thorny in places, smooth in others, blooming at the end. Our collective stories would fill a library of volumes. Our tears from over the years would fill a swimming pool or two.

The woman to my left? A mother from India, her children now grown. I didn't know her name (lots of turnover in our all-expat congregation) but I didn't need to. She looked at me. I looked at her. We smiled at each other, and in that moment, as the preacher thanked G0D for mothers, she and I shared so much. In her eyes I saw, "Well done, my younger sister. You are doing the hardest job of all. You are seen. You are understood. You are loved." I can only hope that she saw, in my eyes, "Thank you, older sister, for blazing the trail for the rest of us. You are honored. You are beautiful. Be at peace."

Sunday School craft

Small kitchen + I love cooking = spending Mother's Day afternoon making pretzels with the kids..on the floor.

My momma: all that I hope to be and more.

May 05, 2017

I'd rather be hiking

You know those "I'd rather be" bumper stickers? I would have one for fishing. And for writing. And playing soccer. And cooking. And definitely hiking.

Good thing I don't have a car of my own, or it'd be covered up in "I'd rather be" stickers, and people would think me the most discontented person ever.

But I'm actually quite content, I'm just a doer. I love doing things. I'm not much for sitting and sipping and chatting. I'll be bringing out a deck of cards at the very least. And if it can be done outside, all the better!

So it stokes the campfires of my heart to see my son enjoying the great outdoors with his Boy Scout troop. When the troop found out that I was a camping and hiking enthusiast, and especially a backcountry cooking enthusiast, I was brought in to demonstrate some of my skills. Thanks to NOLS, I've had lots of experience with a camp stove, and so I chose to demonstrate backcountry cinnamon rolls and backcountry pizza. I used these recipes, which are virtually the same recipes we used in the Australian outback over 15 year ago:

The boys were gentlemanly and interested.

I wanted to impart my love of backcountry cooking to these boys because being in the great outdoors shouldn't mean compromising our God-given palates. We shouldn't have to subsist on overpriced jerky and granola bars until we finally get home to a hot meal. In fact, I told the boys, nothing lifts the morale of the group more, after a night of rain, a fall in the creek, and a busted tent pole (or other such events) than a hot, yeasty pizza oozing with melted mozzarella.

And nothing says "good morning" like hot cinnamon rolls with your pour-over coffee as the sun rises over the valley.

The food pics are from my demo at the scout meeting, but that last pic is from an actual scout campout - the trip they took last weekend. Here are some more pics from that trip:
That's Gene in blue.

We live in a fairly gorgeous part of the world.

Due to the nature of our lifestyle here, I haven't been able to impart my love of soccer to the kids (to the extent that it was offered to me, anyway), but to watch a child of mine lace up a pair of hiking boots and heft a pack first to his knee, then around to his back, well, it fills this trail junky's tin cup to overflowing.

April 30, 2017

She joins the ranks!

Finally, just shy of her 8th birthday, after years of watching her friends and brothers bite down on bloody gauze and pull money out from under their pillows, our little angel girl has lost her first tooth.

It happened at McDonald's, at her friend Zeb's birthday. She thought she had a fry stuck in her teeth. She pulled at the fry but it wouldn't come away from her gums. She brought the problem to my attention.

I squealed like a kid, "She's going to lose her first tooth! Hey everybody, she's going to lose her first tooth, right here at McDonald's, on Zeb's birthday!"

Everybody gathered around. Daniel grabbed a napkin off the tray and folded it over the tooth.

"It's so small," he said. "I can barely get my fingers on it."

But then he moved his big hand just a bit and pulled the napkin away, leaving behind a perfectly square hole.

This picture was taken the next day (the lighting in McDonald's had been poor so I didn't get a good shot). We are so happy for our baby who now has one less baby tooth. Now she won't have to feel like such a baby anymore.

April 27, 2017

Common misconceptions

Wait, your kids don't go to school?!

But don't they miss out socially? Aren't they bored? Don't they lack the ability to work together with others?

Not exactly..

April 25, 2017

Good life

Gene wants to fly drones for the U.S. Navy.

Zion wants to do what his dad and I do, only in a "real" place like Africa;)

Brave is determined to raise his family in Madagascar alongside his best friend, Zeb. The two of them hope to own a plane, flying people and supplies around the island.

Jubilee can't be bothered with such daydreams. She has both feet planted firmly in the here and now. Always has. 

But all of them would like to live as a long as this guy (except for Gene who hopes to go down in a blaze of glory before his body gets old):
This is our neighbor's grandfather's 90th birthday party.
Brave looks unsure, but Zion seems genuinely proud of the guy.
The man on the right is our neighbor and dear friend.
And this butterball is the birthday boy's great-grandson. 

To long life! To good life!

April 18, 2017


Every twelve years, the Chinese zodiac animal comes back around.

Our firstborn son, Bright Eugene, was born in the year of the rooster. Guess what? It is the year of the rooster again. That means Gene is 12, and in China, that is very special. But 12 is an important number in other contexts, too. The tribes of Israel. The months of our calendar year. The optimal number of donuts.

And the last birthday a child has before becoming a teen.

Preteens are a crazy breed. They're a cuddly, prickly, weepy, laughing, silly, somber mess. No amount of Dr. Dobson or John Eldridge can fully prepare a parent for these transitional years. No longer a little boy, not quite a young man. Fuzz on the upper lip. Fuzzy stuffed animals still filling his bed. He's being tugged in both directions. And I feel like I'm being tugged in all directions, trying to help him through his ups and downs without going up and down with him. At the end of every day I hit the pillow completely exhausted, but happy, too, because it's going well. It really is.

And so it is with a full heart and a weary mind that I wish our Eugenious, our Gene Machine, a happy 12th birthday!

加油 Gene! Manhood, here he comes!

April 04, 2017

Right up there with Paul and the Good Shepherd

Zion reads The Word. Every night, past bedtime, but of course we allow it. Wouldn't you?

He tells us in the morning at the breakfast table all about what he read the night before. This morning he reported about Solomon's two sons, Rehoboam and Jeroboam, and what each son grew up to do.

Of course his seminary dork of a father beams at him, his face rolling back into that certain smile that only his children can coax forth. I butter the toast and send my thanks up with the steam. It is a good, good thing to see the soul of your child wrap itself around G0D like rope.

The other night - I just have to share - Zion said at bedtime, "The thing I'm most looking forward to about Heaven are the church services."

This remark brought sidelong glances from his siblings, who no doubt were thinking (as most kids would), 'We're looking forward to the unending screen time and sweets, but sure, you go ahead and long for those church services.'

Zion went on.

"I mean, can you imagine when it's Paul's turn to preach?!" He had a point there. "And do you think they'll let Jesus preach?"

"I'm sure they will," I said (my weak interjection into his inspired vision).

And then this:

[gasp] "OOH MAMA! Do you think they'll let Daddy preach?"