Wednesday, April 30, 2008


“He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.” ~Daniel 2:21

“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” ~Philippians 4:11b-13

There is certainly something attractive about the weather in Papua New Guinea. From what we understand, it is pretty much 75-85 degrees all year long. About the only sense of “seasons” is that which differentiates rainy from dry. I have wondered sometimes, though, whether it would get tedious having the same weather day in and day out. Don’t get me wrong … I am not complaining. I mean, there are lots of other places that He could call us that would have worse conditions, or even other kinds of consistent year-round weather (Antarctica comes to mind). No, I will gladly take 80 degrees. I just wonder sometimes if I will ever miss or long for the changes that come with autumn, spring, and even winter.

According to the path of the sun, the barn swallows on our porch spend two seasons with us: spring and summer. However, I suppose, according to their internal clocks, it is simply the “breeding season.” Unfortunately for the birds, and for us who have grown to love and appreciate them, they lost three of their six little ones yesterday. As I left for work, I noticed three tiny, helpless babies on the concrete under the nest (it’s about a seven-foot drop). My husband gently placed the two who were still showing signs of life back into the nest. The other we placed in a box. We had no idea how long they had been there and it was about 48 degrees outside, so we knew their survival was not guaranteed. But, soon after he replaced them, Mama came and snuggled down over them as if to warm them up.

Later, however, we found them on the ground again, further away from the nest, lifeless. One was overcome with ants, but the other we placed with its sibling in the box and buried. While we have a couple of theories regarding what could have happened, none of them change the fact that Mama and Daddy went from being parents of six to parents of three (including the two who have not yet hatched) in a matter of moments. Like Angie and Todd, they have just entered a new season of life.

These and other situations have started me thinking recently what life would be like if we lived a “normal” 80-degrees-and-clear-skies kind of life all the time. On the up side, we might escape unpleasant things like:

· Fear

· Failure

· Loneliness

· Betrayal

· Rejection

· Loss

· Grief

But, on the down side, our lives would probably become characterized by:

· Boredom

· Routine

· Monotony

· Lack of motivation

· Lack of vision

· Lack of dreams

· Lack of spiritual vitality

I think even the most routine-seeking among us would soon tire of the monotony of emotional, psychological, spiritual sameness all of the time. God has not created us to remain stagnate, but with an appetite to evolve and change as persons. While on the surface the consistency might seem appealing, I think that the subconscious yearning for growth would eventually overwhelm us.

And if everything were the same all of the time, what would motivate us to do anything? We would have no vision and no sense of hope or desire. And even though our dreams would never be crushed, it would be only because we never had a craving to entertain any in the first place.

Yes, even lack of spiritual vitality. What possible need could I have for Almighty God in an 80-degrees-and-clear-skies-all-the-time kind of life? When things are comfortable and I have everything I need? If there has been one consistent outcome in every tragic or difficult situation I have witnessed or experienced, it is that God has been about the work of changing those involved to the extent that they are willing to experience His touch, even when it is at first painful, and surrender to His will, even when it doesn’t make sense.

I think I will actually enjoy, for the most part, the consistent physical weather of PNG. However, when it comes to the emotional, psychological, spiritual side of life, I’d rather continue following the hand of God through the seasons—the sunny summer days and the winter chills, the spring storms and the refreshing autumn breezes.

”May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” ~Romans 15:13

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Angie Smith recently posted a video put to a song she and Todd wrote for/in honor of little Audrey. You will be blessed again. Turn off the music on the right ... oh, and get the tissues before you hit "play." She posted the lyrics on her site,

Once you have watched that video, check out this link to find a video interview Angie and Todd did for Cross Point Church in Nashville (the video is about 25 minutes long). The pastor, Pete Wilson, is the host and along with the Smiths challenges us to view our circumstances through the lens of God rather than viewing God through the lenses of our circumstances. Watch it and you'll understand what I mean. Make sure you have a few tissues remaining, though, before you begin. =)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Sceloporus olivaceus

“A lizard can be caught with the hand, yet it is found in kings' palaces.” ~Proverbs 30:28

Before her recent capture, Lizzie Lou had apparently taken up residence in my office – not exactly what you would call a “palace.” She had been sighted before and had gotten away. But, leave it to my son to capture her – though not actually with his hand. Honestly, it would be more fair to say she captured herself. Do you remember the stories of God throwing armies into confusion and routing them while the children of Israel stood by and watched? Yeah, it was kind of like that.

My son spotted her lurking in my office and then proceeded to chase her around the room. Finally, making a decision she probably regrets, she ran into an empty box, and my son, smart enough to seize the opportunity, righted the box and had himself a lizard.

Lizzie is a Texas Spiny Lizard. These creatures can grow to about 11” long, are insectivores, climb trees, and are known for their jumping ability (which, actually, has been quite entertaining!) She (yes, she’s a “she,” as evidenced by her plain, gray belly – males have blue on their bellies) is about 6” long and, frankly, has adapted well to us. She doesn’t scurry away from us too much anymore, and instead, grasps onto a finger nudged gently under her belly, and, given the chance, races up the attached arm. I think she sees it as a way of escape, but as of yet, she has not been successful (which is good, because she doesn’t realize she would likely become cat food.)

Wednesday, after running up my daughter's arm, and onto her back, Lizzie decided to crawl through her hair and onto her head. I am really glad that I heard laughter and not screams from that one!

When we got Lizzie some crickets, we didn’t realize how very educational this whole experience would be! First, we got to see her snatch and eat one within about 15 minutes of their introduction to her habitat. (She received a rousing applause!) Then later I spied one cricket looking quite dead. After 20-30 minutes, I walked back by and realized he was actually molting! Pretty cool!

The kids had been hoping for a rodent (gerbil, hamster, guinea pig, rat … it didn’t matter what.) I think Lizzie is satisfying that itch … at least for now. =)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A Catching Repose

“I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure ….” ~Psalm 16:8-9

“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.” ~Psalm 62:5-6

“Find rest, my soul, in Christ alone. Know his power in quietness and trust.” ~Reuben Morgan, "Still"

The time to relax is when you don't have time for it.” ~Sydney J. Harris

I am fairly certain it is a universal quality in preadolescents, but my children don’t like to slow down at night. When bedtime approaches and beginning the routine is hinted at or even simply considered, every effort is made to find that second wind.

Spinning around on the rope swing …
Turning on “dancing” music …
Disturbing the cat …
“Mommy, I’m hungry …”
“Will you play ‘Blink’ with me?”
“Hey bubba, let’s make a fort out of the couch cushions …”
“Get the wood out of the garage so we can build a rocket ship!”

I think that somewhere in their subconscious they know that if they stop, even for a brief moment, they will realize they’re actually sleepy.

I do the same thing, though. After I finally get them in bed, I know I had better get all of my chores done before I pause long enough to breathe - lest I fall into a coma. Wash the dishes, refill the cat’s water bowl, wipe down the counters, put the wet laundry in the dryer, fold the dry stuff, stack the kids’ clothes outside their doors, rip out some baseboards and floor for the next project, dust the piano, go through the mail, clean out the litter box …

Why is it so hard to be still? Even when we make the attempt - to spend time with the Lord, to read a book, to simply vegetate – the human brain continues to race: chores to be done, people to contact, something to add to the grocery list …

The cat, interestingly enough, has no problem with such distractions. It could be because he has no responsibilities, no stresses (ok, two stresses, but sometimes they’re not around), not even the faintest thoughts. He’s a sweet guy, to be fair, but he constantly looks like his EEG would be flat lined. And that’s when he’s awake. He can sit for hours and look out the window. At nothing.

Then there are the times when he succumbs to slumber, which, in keeping with his cat-ness, are quite frequent.

The dude has figured out how to relax.

I'm jealous. I think I'll take some lessons from him. =)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

A Parable

"I never for a day gave up listening to the songs of our birds, or watching their peculiar habits, or delineating them in the best way I could.” ~John Audubon

“‘Where is God my Maker, who gives songs in the night, who teaches more to us than to the beasts of the earth and makes us wiser than the birds of the air?’” Job 35:10-11

“The sad news is that there has been a steady increase in the number of divorces among couples married 30 or more years. Many long-term married couples divorce one another after the kids leave home. They realize too late that their children kept them together … [and sense] an uncertain future along with being overwhelmed by too much togetherness.

"The good news is that with good communication and preparation for this phase of your marriage, the empty nest years can be tremendously enjoyable and full of new beginnings.” ~Sheri & Bob Stritof

Two years ago, a young couple moved in with us for the summer. They were fairly quiet, and tended to be very pleasant house guests. They didn’t demand much of us, yet they provided hours of entertainment and many educational opportunities.

Now this is the third summer in a row the barn swallows have nested on our porch. The first year they built the nest without our knowledge and before we knew what was happening they had a nest full of five little brown speckled eggs. The happy couple laid and raised that and one more brood of babies that year, and when the season was over, I took down the nest.

Last year, we came home from a vacation to find the charming couple rebuilding their home … beak-full of mud by little beak-full of mud. They raised two sets of quadruplets that year and I decided not to take down the nest when the summer ended.

A couple weeks ago they returned yet again. During the weeks leading up to their return, the couple spent lots of evenings out on the town, hanging out, dancing in the sky, and feasting at the Flying Insect Café. Soon after they arrived this year, they proceeded to do some light remodeling on the nest: additional mud pack, new grasses and feathers, maybe some new appliances - only the best for the kids, you know. Finally the big day came: they laid five small eggs. Five new little lives are developing as I type.

This couple, who, before, was living it up, laughing, and having fun together and was investing some serious time and energy in their relationship, now has completely new priorities. Mama is absolutely obsessed with these eggs! More than any other year so far, she sits on these eggs for hours on end. Due to the remodeling, she now sits lower in the nest and it’s difficult to see, but I’ve chatted with her and I know what she’s doing. She’s up there perusing What to Expect When You’re Expecting, reading aloud books like Guess How Much I Love You?, and playing classical music through five miniature sets of headphones. She even signed up on one of those websites for expectant mothers and waits with baited breath for the daily e-mail informing her of the chicks’ development.

Daddy? He comes and goes, works out with his buddies, plays golf with the guys from the office. He comes home late and, though he occasionally sits on the side of the nest next to Mama, he seems more comfortable on our porch light, about five feet away, watching the late show while Mama goes to bed early.

I know what’s about to happen, though. I’ve seen it four times in the last two years. In a couple weeks, from those delicate eggs will hatch five of the most pathetic, naked, blind, helpless little creatures you could imagine. They will decide who looks like whom and Daddy will become very attentive, playing tag team with Mama as they provide for their little ones. All day, every day, for three weeks (I promise I am not exaggerating), they will fly back and forth, back and forth, back and forth – stopping at the Flying Insect Café for take out and carrying the spoils back to five open, expectant mouths. They will stuff a crane fly or a mosquito into one mouth while everyone else screams, “Awwww, no fair!” and then go back for more. Mama and Daddy will never fly together – one goes out, the other comes in, and vice versa … all day, every day, for three weeks. In the evenings, once the kids are down for the night, they will both sit on the side of the nest, the adjoining ledge (or the porch light) and sigh. They will fall asleep from sheer exhaustion before they even have a chance to reconnect.

After three weeks, these babies will begin to leave the nest. For four or five days, they will take turns daring each other to jump. They’ll finally get their flying permits, and they will wonder what life is like outside their neat and sheltered little world. Mama and Daddy will basically stop feeding them and they will be forced to step out on their own. And no, you cannot move back in with us – go to college or get a job or something.

Finally, after all have fledged, Mama and Daddy will sit on their vacant nest. They will survey the damage and consider the emptiness in their hearts. They will go out to dinner, look at each other across the table and sigh with resignation. Finally one will speak. Honey, I don’t feel like we even know each other anymore.

Oh, that we might be wiser than the birds of the air.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Boxer Shorts?

“You can tell a lot about a person from their underwear.” ~Rachel Bilson

“Mirth is the sweet wine of human life. It should be offered sparkling with zestful life unto God.” ~Henry Ward Beecher

The smaller people in our home have never been fond of situations where they had to be fully dressed. Around here, it’s not uncommon to hear comments such as,

No, you can’t go to church in your pajamas.

Get back in the house! You can’t follow me to the mailbox in your underwear!

You’d better get some clothes on. They just rang the doorbell!

Where are your shoes?

(OK, I admit it. That last one is frequently directed at myself, and in close proximity to “Where are the keys?”)

Well, this week, we got to add another great phrase to the repertoire.

As you might remember, my son recently chose to sell his trains because he’s “into super heroes now.” So, when I decided a couple weeks later to get him some new underwear (he was getting those “rings” around his waist), I thought Superman and Batman would be well received, and a good complement to the Spiderman already in the drawer.

“I don’t want those,” he said with a huff.

I never got a good reason out of him, but no, he was NOT going to wear that underwear. It took at least a week to get an understandable response: he wanted boxers. And he wanted them in “plaids, stripes, turquoise, and violet.” Um, okay. If you say so.

He also opted for knit rather than woven (good call), and if you know anything about boxers, you know it’s difficult to find knit AND plaids or stripes in the same garment. (Why is that?) So, I selected a package of three in turquoise (well, it was actually more like parrot #3579DC, but he doesn’t need to know that), gray and black. Soon after came the need for our new phrase …

No, you can’t wear boxers as P.E. shorts.

“Why not?”

“Well, because they’re underwear … and they have a hole in the front.” (Need I say more?)

Well, he loved his boxers quite a lot, despite the fact that they were not going to be appropriate as outerwear for kickball and relay races at school. Then his sister decided she really liked them, too … especially after she found some in my drawer. “Mom! You have boxers?!”

“Yeah. Lots of girls sleep in them.”

You could say pajamas are our favorite clothes around here. Though I doubt my husband would do likewise, I’d go to work in pajamas if I could get away with it, so the kids come by it naturally. Consequently, the knowledge that some girls sleep in boxers cinched the deal, but she was pretty sure she was going to need some with a button on the fly, as she didn’t intend to actually use the fly (good to know.) I was already going to get one more package for my son, since he had proven his love and use of the first batch, so after school on Tuesday, I gave them each a package.

“Cool Mom! They even have the button!!”

“Yeah, thanks Mom! And hey, since they have a button, can I wear these as P.E. shorts??”

Ahhhh … impeccable logic. Um … no.

Not long after we got home, I could hear from the other room as they frolicked about, presumably having tried on said garments. My daughter jubilantly began to chant,

“I L-O-V-E-L-O-V-E-L-O-V-E-L-O-V-Eeeeeeeeeeee- …”

and my son, in unison with her, chimed in to complete their joint expression of mirth …

“… BOXERS!!!!

Ahhhhh … so who says undies can’t buy happiness? =)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

He Gives and Takes Away

"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." ~1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

"Blessed be Your name in the land that is plentiful,
where Your streams of abundance flow, blessed be Your name.

Blessed be Your name when I'm found in the desert place;
though I walk through the wilderness, blessed be your name.

Blessed be Your name when the sun's shining down on me;
when the world's all as it should be, blessed be Your name.

Blessed be Your name on the road marked with suffering;
though there's pain in the offering, blessed be Your name.

Every blessing You pour out I'll turn back to praise.
When the darkness closes in, Lord, still I will say,
'Blessed be Your glorious name.'

You give and take away ..." ~Matt Redmon

For those of you who have thought of Angie and her precious Audrey Caroline, she was born today by C-section at 4:30 PM. She lived for 2 hours and 15 minutes and was loved on by all those close to her. I could not hold back the tears when I heard they had that much time with her. One of my prayers had been that she would not die so soon that they could not spend time with her. God answered that prayer, and many, many others.

Angie's friend has been updating her blog today. You can check it out at

Pray without ceasing ...

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Mindless Drivel

"Mindless habitual behavior is the enemy of innovation." ~Rosabeth Moss Kanter

"We dribble away our life, little by little, in small packages - we don't throw it away all at once. " ~Robert A. Cook

I can't get my lawnmower to work, so I am investing my life (well, at least this few minutes - I really should go try to start the mower again) in mindless activities. Thank you to my dear friend, Genny, who led me on this wild goose ... uh, image chase. Her instructions were to answer the question and then type that word or those words into Google images and post the first picture that comes up. I have to admit that I changed which pet name I would use because the first three names I tried gave me ... well, pictures that I shall not post on this family-friendly site. Also, it's a good thing I used our nickname rather than my first name, as that picture was not something I would willingly include either. I'm trying not to take it personally. =)

OK, so here goes.

1. Age on your next birthday? 40 (oh, my)

2. Favorite food? Thin-crust Veggie Pizza

3. Favorite color? blue

4. A place I would like to visit? Papua New Guinea

5. Where I live? Texas

6. Name of a past or present pet? Nutmeg

7. One of my favorite places? Switzerland

8. Favorite holiday? Christmas (well, whaddaya know? It's the same image Genny has!)

9. Bad habit? Eating (but hot dogs like these are not really a problem) :-)

10. Favorite animal? I typed, "I don't have one," ... because I don't.

11. Favorite cartoon from childhood? Bugs Bunny

12. Name? Peas

13. Favorite Extravagance? Bed & Breakfast

14. A phrase I overuse? "If you say so."

OK ... your turn! :-)

Saturday, April 5, 2008


The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” ~Psalm 51:17

“This sin will become for you like a high wall, cracked and bulging …. It will break in pieces like pottery, shattered so mercilessly that among its pieces not a fragment will be found …. In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength …” ~Isaiah 30:13-15

“God will never plant the seed of his life upon the soil of a hard, unbroken spirit. He will only plant that seed where the conviction of His Spirit has brought brokenness, where the soil has been watered with the tears of repentance as well as the tears of joy.” ~Alan Redpath

“True brokenness is a lifestyle – a moment-by- moment lifestyle of agreeing with God about the true condition of my heart and life – not as everyone else thinks it is but as He knows it to be.” ~Nancy Leigh DeMoss

On the second morning of our Florida weekend, I left the house to walk up the beach alone for a while. I had heard that the beach to the East of us was a good place to find sand dollars, and I thought I would keep an eye out for these fragile skeletons as I walked.

I saw scores of fragments, small and large, but I walked for at least thirty minutes before I finally spotted a whole sand dollar. It was about an inch and a half in diameter. As I held it in my hand and walked on, I suppose I forgot just how careful I needed to be. Within minutes it was broken, simply from the force of what I thought was a gentle grip. I glanced into my palm, sighed, and dropped the shards to the sand.

Over the next two and a half hours (it’s amazing how fast it went!) I found almost two dozen whole sand dollars. However, God wasn’t about to let this adventure be just about the sea creatures themselves. He began to speak to my heart.

Why are you only looking for whole ones?

Well, ‘cause they’re the most beautiful … the most desired.

Maybe so, but I love the broken ones, too.

Um … you’re not talking about sand dollars, are you?

I am so grateful that when God seeks us out to redeem us and restore us, he isn’t looking only for the perfect specimen among us. (He surely wouldn’t find very much!) He desires to gather up all the pieces of our lives and carefully restore us to righteousness in Him. I considered the monumental task of searching for all the pieces of a particular sand dollar, and except for the one I had discarded in a heap, I couldn’t imagine trying to piece together dozens of random fragments … much less finding them all as they were surely scattered throughout the sea and various coastlines of the earth. But, God does not have that problem. He knows at any given time where all the pieces of your heart, your life, lie … lost, discarded, rejected, possibly even forgotten by all by Himself. And he is willing to go to the ends of the earth - even to the cross - to reclaim the pieces and restore you.

As I walked and pondered further, I decided to pick up some fragmented skeletons as well … just to remember this moment. However, the longer I walked, the more I became aware that I was not just looking for any ol’ piece. Now I was looking for perfect pieces of broken sand dollar. Not necessarily those with clean breaks, but those that were, even in their brokenness, still lovely, appealing, and recognizable as sand dollar pieces.

Why are you just picking up the “perfect” broken ones?

Oh my ….. You’re right. I’m a slow learner.

Not only does God not look for whole, perfect, healthy people to claim for Himself, but He doesn’t even care what condition your pieces are in. If you show only a small, seemingly insignificant, superficial crack, you are still in need of His grace. Yet, even if you are shattered into billions of pieces - wounded by countless people and events, bruised by scores of hurtful words, paying the consequences of innumerable sins – he still longs to bring healing and restoration to your soul. I realized in what desperate condition we would be if God were willing only to pick up our “perfect” broken pieces, because there really are none - none lovely, none desirable, none even recognizable.

Thank you, God, for not being as closed minded as I am. Your desire for perfection is satisfied not in my upbringing, choices, talents, experience, plans, or will, but only in the holiness bestowed on me by your grace alone.

“Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit’ – contrary to what we would expect, brokenness is the pathway to blessing! There are no alternative routes; there are no short-cuts. The very thing we dread and are tempted to resist is actually the means to God’s greatest blessings in our lives.” ~Nancy Leigh DeMoss

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Getting Away

"The only way to have a friend is to be one. " ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

"The real test of friendship is: can you literally do nothing with the other person? Can you enjoy those moments of life that are utterly simple?" ~Eugene Kennedy

"Men go abroad to wonder at the heights of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motions of the stars, and they pass by themselves without wondering. " ~Saint Augustine

Sometimes life presents reasonable alternatives to selling your kids on Ebay. Last weekend was one of those opportunities as three of my college roommates and I came from Georgia, Alabama, and Texas to converge on a Florida beach house. The four husbands were, as my father noted with obvious amazement, very “broadminded” to let us go by ourselves for five days, but I think the conversations were similar in each of the households:

So, what are you girls going to do?
Nothing … absolutely nothing.

Do you think your mom could come to help with the kids?
(answers to this one varied)

Will you be, uh ... coming home?
Umm … I haven’t decided yet.

I took a couple of books to read, but in typical* “girl” fashion, reading was pushed aside as we opted instead to talk and laugh and talk and laugh. We watched a couple movies, played Scrabble, Sudoku, and hearts, walked the beach looking for shells, enjoyed the dolphins dancing by in the water, and relished the perfect weather (by perfect I mean warm sunshine and clear skies, but not so hot that you sweat – not even a drop!) We sat on the beach with sunscreen on and still managed to get sunburned, though not enough to induce misery. We went out to dinner on the waterfront surrounded by seagulls and pelicans. We reminisced about our college days, caught each other up on people we’d stayed in touch with, and took lots of pictures. We shared stories of our lives, including those of the eleven kids we’d birthed (ranging in age from “almost 2” to twelve). We treasured the silence that made conspicuous their absence, but missed them just enough to go home when the weekend was over.

We’re already talking about doing it again next year.

Thank you, husbands, for your love and support and for allowing us to go! Thank you, kids, for not denying us the opportunity to get away from cries of Mooooooooom! and the leg-grasping, tear-spouting, fist-flying, accusation-exchanging, tantrum-throwing, attention-demanding part of life. Thank you, God, for lifelong friends who love and encourage us.

* Lest anyone wonder, none of us are "typical" girls! Case in point, we walked away from college with degrees in Chemical, Electrical, Textile, and Mechanical Engineering.

One of the girls had gone to the chiropractor just before the trip and it came up in conversation. He joked with her about the partying she was about to do, but was taken aback when she said, “One of the girls’ husbands is the worship pastor at their church, one of them is getting ready to go on the mission field …” He cut her off with “BORING!”

It’s all a matter of perspective, of course, but from ours (despite our geeky backgrounds) he couldn’t have been more wrong.

Now, where is that 2009 calendar?

We are missionaries serving God and the task of Bible translation by serving the missionary community in Papua New Guinea through Personnel Administration and MK Education. We thank you for your prayers!

For the Bibleless Peoples of the World ...

(Updated 13 April 2013)