28 February 2010

It's About Time...

I'm FINALLY getting around to posting the photos from Brendan's photo shoot at Captured Memories... thanks again, Gampy! (I know, I'm a delinquent mom... can I cry "Better late than never?") Can't believe he's 14... getting closer to 15 all the time.

27 February 2010

Fiction Finders

Nadia and Anna have participated in a fun and exciting program run through the public library here in town called Battle of the Books. This is the first time that Calvary has had a team from the school, and so it has been a learning experience for us all... we never dreamed that their team would make it to the "semi-finals!" They've read lots of great books, learned much about teamwork and cooperation... and we can't wait to see how they do in their first "oral battle!" We are traveling the weekend of the semi-final competition, but wouldn't it be exciting to see our team make the finals?

Go Fiction Finders!

26 February 2010

Finding Victoria

Tori's teacher blogs, too... and recently posted this, with pictures from her classroom. When you find the picture of Tori... you'll also get to see her haircut!


My favorite books to read - fiction or nonfiction - are ones that stir up lots of thoughts and ponderings, ones that direct my thinking to things about God, ones that lift my eyes to look upon Him and worship. I've read several books this year (enjoying our public library!), and this one has to be one of the top two so far: Crusade of Tears, by C D Baker. Set in the 13th century, the reader pilgrimmages with two brothers, their young, handicapped sister and an old, wandering priest who befriends them (as well as several other children)as they take part in the "Children's Crusade." Terribly sad, yet ultimately hopeful, this book (rather eloquently, I believe) tackles head on the issues of suffering and injustice in this world... I'm including a small excerpt below - one of my favorite conversations in the book. If you want to know more, find a copy and read it for yourself. I highly recommend the book, and... be sure and let me know if you do!

"...hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perserverance we wait eagerly for it."
~Romans 9.24b - 25

EXCERPT, from pages 360-363

Pieter leaned hard on his staff and turned a sincere eye toward his new friends.

"I simply cannot grasp this God of ours. My mind fails me oft, for at one moment I see His love in bounty all about me, and on the next, it is as if He abides neither in this place nor any other. He seems, at times, to be the most intimate presence in all the kosmos; at others, the most distant."

"Ach, my soul is anguished and aches. It cries out in sunlight and in darkness, for my mind is tangled and woefully weak. I have roamed this troubled world for some seventy-seven years and have seen much. But surely, the more mine eyes do capture, the less I discern. I have labored to comprehend that which I encounter so that I might be more certain of what I do yearn to hold... but I have failed to understand and my faith does fail me often."

The two men listened carefully, even sympathetically, as Pieter lamented the confusions of his life and the vexation of all efforts to snatch meaning from the chaos all about. Pieter finally quieted and sat with his silent friends to watch the sun crest the craggy summits.

Jean filled his lungs with the mountain air and broke the silence with a calming confidence. "Mon ami, Scripture teaches us that when times do well we ought to be happy, but when times are not, to consider that God has made the one as well as the other."

"Ja, ja," answered Pieter, a quality of impatience rigning in his tone. "I am not ignorant of such counsel. Ach. But why... why does he allow evil to fouls us, why such pain and misery? Why does his love fade and wither like a weak bloom in autumn?"

"Ah... 'tis a fair challenge," observed Philip. "Might I ask if strong faith is a good end?"

"Ja, so it is. And...?"

"And has struggle with hardship brought you increas or want in your faith?"

Pieter paused. "Surely both, it would seem."

"Then, good fellow, beg my leave to ask how you are so certain such suffering is by His failure? Could it not be a mysterious blessing from the only One who knows what Pieter... or Jean... or m'self... must needs endure to grow in faith?"

Pieter hesitated.

"Might I pose another question? When have you wrestled most with your Maker? When have y'shook your fist or fell, despairing, to your knees?"

"In times of sorrow and pain," answered Pieter slowly.

"Oui. It seems we creatures are always wont to drift from the One who longs to but hear our cries... or see our face turn even an angry eye toward Him. 'Tis sad, but as we are we've little interest to look to Him for any cause save when we've suffered loss or blundered our way."

Pieter stiffened. "Misery seems an odd way to draw us... yea, perhaps even a cruel way, methinks. I've yet to understand such as He."

Jean smiled kindly. "It is not the heart of God that lacks, but ours. He is not a hard taskmaster; we are stiff-necked students. And you shall not know the mind of this God ours, brother, not ever; 'tis not meant for us to know the why. Such a thing would leave little room for faith. We would soon only trust in our own understanding."

Pieter stood to his feet and protested, "Nay, we ought be able to know His ways so we might know what to expect. I wake by lauds and tremble to imagine which of my children I m ight lose this day or which might be spared! I know not whether He's a mind to feed us or tear our bellies with hunger again, or whether some mischief shall pounce upon us or whether mercy shall lead us. If I could but see His mind... have a sound hold of His ways..."

Jean took the old man by the shoulders and faced him squarely. "Though our faith be reasonable, we are clearly instructed, nonetheless, to 'lean not upon our own understanding,' but rather to allow for the mysteries of a God who owes no debt of explanation to His creatures. You, priest, by your own words do toil to deny such submission. Pity, indeed to waste a life in such futility of effort."

Jean signed and narrowed his eyes at Pieter's. He spoke gently, but firmly, "Brother Pieter, hear me say this: 'Tis plain that you are a most arrogant and prideful man."

Pieter was startled by the charge and stood hard-faced and flushed in the early light.

Philip set an affectionate hand on his shoulder. "It is love for you that draws truth to my lips. Jean is right to say he sees a haughty spirit shadowing your mind. I discern you to be beset by a sinister, subtle pride, a wily and elusive pride that keeps you in bondage..."

22 February 2010

OK, so I'm not "sighing" anymore...

Anyone remember this post?

I was so disappointed when Rebekah made a choice

~ for the record, I NEVER thought she'd made a BAD choice, it was just one that I would have never made myself ~

and I reluctantly realized that something which I'd been eagerly anticipating, since her last basketball game the previous winter, just was not going to happen.






*WHISPERING QUIETLY... 'cause I don't want to embarrass her...*
"Can that really be MY LITTLE GIRL?"

I just love this photo... see her daddy's hands up in the air, ready to catch her if she falls?

I certainly never dreamed that I'd get to watch her do this... and it has been a TON of FUN!

17 February 2010


Staring out the window, looking at all that snow on the ground, tired of coats and a little bored with sledding, scraping the car and shoveling the driveway (and the snow volume hasn't been nearly as high here this winter as it was last year when I was without hubby and very pregnant, but that's an aside to which I will add that I do think it has been colder this year)... Well, it makes us remember warmly the advantages of living on the backside of the desert: short sleeves year round... a sandbox anytime you desire digging... regular pilgrammages to the pool, lots of sunshine through harmattan skies... no real concerns regarding activity cancellation due to weather incooperation... lots of lizards and other incredible critters... So, in reaction to a nudge of nostalgia, we thought we'd repost this glimpse of our "other" earthly home! Hope you enjoy!
Hippos are huge, fascinating, sometimes scary and dangerous animals. ...[Here are] some photos from a boat trip we took [back in June, 2007] to see the Niamey "locals" - a pod of hippos that are generally found in the vicinity. Thanks to our colleagues, Bob & Lois Gillespie for graciously sharing these photos with us ... as you can see, Tim & I had our hands full ... without a camera and Elsie hadn't yet made her official debut!














16 February 2010

Answers that only lead to more questions

Yesterday, I posed a riddle.

Last night, at our house, a rather rapid fire discussion ensued as "they" tried to solve it. Can you guess which one of the older kids (Brendan, Rebekah, Nadia, Anna or Victoria) actually came up with the solution? =D

For those of you who are dying (not literally) to know: "The souls of the condemned are, by their very nature, selfish and self-centered and think only of how the world affects them. They took their long, pointed sticks and tried to feed themselves. In so doing they paid the price of all such selfishness... they were left empty and hungry and angry. On the other hand, the souls of the departed pardoned had learned the futility of serving the self and had experienced the joy of sharing and serving others. They used their sticks to feed eath other and each received the blessings of a life given to service and a life given to loving one's neighbor."

Well, actually, that wasn't a verbatim answer to the riddle... the child who successfully solved simply said that the folks in heaven fed each other, which was, of course, the correct solution.

And it really didn't take them too long to figure out that correct response... what got interesting was when I asked them why that was the answer.

Essentially, the "whys" boiled down to the fact that the people in heaven were good people acting like good people and the people in hell were bad people behaving as bad people generally did.

Does anyone else see a problem with that thinking? I do not believe that it is truthful or right... if we look at it biblically. Biblically, we are all self-serving sinners and any change in behavior has nothing to do with who we are, but who we are allowing to direct and change us... who our God is. This riddle reveals a deeply held belief that it is the good people who end up in heaven and the bad ones who are condemned to hell. It fits our human concepts of fairness and justice. Yet the Bible is quite clear that we are all bad people and that the inhabitants of heaven will be there on the merits of Christ's righteousness, not on the merit of what they might have learned and accomplished during their lifetimes.

We must be so careful that an insidious "other Gospel," one contaminated by any unbiblical messages such as

  • salvation won or earned in part or in whole by works,
  • salvation kept or lost based upon what men do, or
  • works that result in earning God's love

for these all draw away from the truth that once a person has been justified by faith in the atoning work of Christ, God sees the righteousness of His Son, not the works of the man, as He gazes upon us. Any works are to be the outpouring of God's love, grace in grateful hearts.

This side of eternity, it will be a continual battle to stop myself from saying, "God, look at me! Look at what I've done for You, in Your name!" instead of thanking God for covering me with the garment of rightousness, purchased by the blood of His Son and enabling me to be His instrument.

15 February 2010

Interesting and Thought Provoking Riddle...

Do you like riddles? We do... Here's one that has provoked some interesting thoughts, and I can't wait to discuss it a bit with our older kids, too. Do you know the answer?

A young man was sent to observe a feast in hell, and he immediately remarked that the condemned had been given sharpened sticks with which to eat, each one as long as a man is tall . The famished souls tried as hard as they could, but could never reach their mouths with the meat they impaled. This, in turn, led to fighting and cursing. The sad young man was then escorted to heaven where the angels were inviting the pardoned to engage in the same activity. The heavenly residents were handed the same sharpened sticks with which to eat. Yet in heaven, each was able to enjoy the good meat, as well as much joy and fellowship.

How could this be so?

10 February 2010

Wordy Wednesday... but not too wordy!

"To worship is to...

...quicken the conscience by the holiness of God,

to feed the mind with the truth of God,

to purge the imagination by the beauty of God,

to open the heart to the love of God

to devote the will to the purpose of God."

~William Temple
Heard the quote in church last Sunday morning... thanks Pastor Dan!
Image is "Freedom to Worship" by Norman Rockwell, The Saturday Evening Post, February 27, 1943 (story illustration). Oil on canvas (46 x 35 1/2 in.) and is displayed in the Norman Rockwell Museum of Stockbridge (Massachusetts).

09 February 2010

Fabulously Fondantly Fun

One of my goals each furlough year is to try new recipes... learn some new things that I can prepare for my family's enjoyment... this year, I wanted to learn how to make and use fondant to ice and decorate cakes. Part of the challenge includes finding recipes where all of the ingredients (or acceptable substitutes) can be regularly procured in Niger. The fondant recipe only requires generally available products, so I've been having fun...

Nadia's birthday cake, however, has been by far my favorite. Not only was it fun to do, Nadia was delighted!

Even the littlest ones could help roll the snowballs, too... however, I must disclose that the ones they rolled tended to end up eaten and not on the cake!

Doesn't it look like fun?

08 February 2010

All the King's Horses and...

...all the king's men have finally connected us once again!

They must have felt sorrier for us than they did for Humpty...

This week is a crazy week for our family. Tim is at a pastor's conference in Minnesota and it is Spirit/Homecoming Week for the kids at school with tons of extra stuff and dress-up/costume days every day. I've also got tons of ideas for blog posts I've been wanting to do. That forced fast from the Internet must have flowered my imagination. *grin* And that doesn't even touch all the photos I'm still wanting to post from before the holiday rush. I'm just hoping I have computer time before I start to forget... we are getting older, after all... Tim especially... today's his birthday... and it is one of those decade ones...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the best daddy and hubby EVER!


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