31 July 2012

~ Nearly 1500 ~

I've been blogging for several years now. I think it is quite safe to say that I enjoy it... a lot! As I started to work on a recent post, I happened to glance at the statistic that said I'm just a bit shy of 1500 posts! I truly had no idea.

I've also been challenged to take time to look back and reflect on where I've been, what God has done, the things He's taught... those things he is still teaching me... because when I see how clearly and unquestionably He's been involved in my past, it gives me the confidence to trust Him with my now and my future.

So I've spent some time going back through all of those earlier blog posts, and have picked out my "Top 15." They aren't necessarily the ones that have had the most views or the most comments. But they are ones that stand out from the rest to me, at least in this moment, from the others. I wouldn't exactly call them my all-time favorites, but they are the ones that are memorable to me.

Therefore, without further ado...

What can I say? I just LOVE the photos in this post! Even though I hardly ever go and look at MckMama's blog these day... I go back and look at these photos of my munchkins snuggling the toads and remember all the other times I've found them loving on "creepy crawlies!"

This remains a continuing priority and struggle – with 6 daughters and a mama who is still trying to figure it out. Teaching to live a life of moderation in all areas is no small feat! I want these precious girls (and boys, frankly) of mine to radiate modesty of heart and spirit… and I’m pretty sure that modesty in appearance will follow.

This might be the most recent post in this list... but it has already become one of Our Wrighting Pad’s most popular posts ever. Maybe it will make you smile, too.

Good reminder. I hate to think that I'm like that group of people for whom Jesus reserved some of His hardest words... Yet I fight the battle against that hateful Pharisee-within… EVERY. SINGLE. DAY! And I'm so very thankful for those some days when by the grace of God, I'm victorious...

I really do think with my fingers. I’ll be a hopeless case if the arthritis ever gets so bad I can no longer type. ;-)

Challenged by my child
Here, I wrote about a difficult parenting moment. God grew me that day… I need to go back and ask said child featured in this story if our conversation continues to challenge him or her the way it does me.

So what do you do when someone won’t listen to just plain “good sense?”
This post is all about ladies' Bible study at our Harobanda church. Today, several months after this conversation, we’re still looking deeply into this subject of biblical confrontation and our responsibility to encourage and exhort our brothers and sisters in the Lord, as well as to point everyone around us towards the cross.

Letting Go
Ah… parenting… and with so many stages in this always happening home of ours, it is always an adventure. We are never sure what might be just around the next corner. Sometimes it is nerve wracking! Most of the time, it is nothing short of magnificent! And the pictures of my biggers in this post are definitely among some of my absolute favorites!

Going Bananas
We were packing up our house and storing everything as we prepared for our '09 - '10 furlough. In a move of classic avoidance and procrastination from what REALLY needed to be done, Tim snapped these photos and I made my first significant foray into the world of photoshop… i.e. I did more than crop, saturate and brighten… These pictures still make me smile every time I see them.

We've had some scary and some strange things, medically, happen to our family while we've been living in Niger, and it is always uncomfortable stretches my faith in the Lord as we are in the middle of a "crisis." This was another one of those crisis times... and God’s care and provision simply astounded me. I still wonder, though - will there ever come a time when I decide I just can’t accept His terms of supply? Even after so much proven faithfulness, each time, I still have to deliberately choose trust... I wish I'd learn this lesson once and for all.

What are you wearing today?
This blog post was one of my very first Bible studies. Last furlough, I was able to do a demonstration/adaptation of this study at several speaking engagements. Kids, in particular, seemed to love it!

This one has surprised me, for it is the second most popular of all of my posts, receiving dozens of views each week. I never expected that, so would someone tell me to pick my jaw up off the floor, please.

My feelings are still just as real, just as powerful today... as when I tapped out these words many months ago. And then there's the fact that this picture of Nadia standing and looking out over the Niger River is another all-time favorite.

This post immediately generated more response than any other post I’ve written – except one; it wasn't in the comments section of the blog, but rather real life conversations, phone calls and letters and emails. I was totally surprised and overwhelmed... but even more now than then, I believe what I was trying to express.

That is Zarma for “But the servants knew…”
I’ve taught a lot of Bible studies since this one – in English, in French and even some parts of ones now, in Zarma. However, the lessons God continues to impress upon my heart through this particular portion of His Word are unbelievably, compellingly powerful.

30 July 2012

Multitude Monday - 1000 Gifts - It Really is Raspberry (shhhh) Meringue Pie

Ever heard of a raspberry meringue pie?

I hadn't.

But I had just taught my son how to make lemon meringue (he did a phenomenal job, by the way)... I was thinking about missing raspberry and blueberry picking season in Michigan this year, AGAIN... and I started wondering. I'm really glad I did.

In the words of the teacher in one of my all-time favorite children's books ever, "Sometimes when you begin to wonder, you begin to make things happen..."

I guess I could've simply typed raspberry meringue into a google search, but I didn't.

Well, not until our Google-independent creation had already been gobbled and devoured. I was the tiniest bit disappointed, though not really surprised, to find I was not the first to have this idea. There are actually lots of recipes out there.

However together, Nadia and I figured out how to make  a raspberry custard simply by modifying the lemon custard recipe and voilà: Raspberry Meringue Pie.

We used raspberry preserves to make a syrup from which we made the custard.

Nadia likes to use butter when she makes her pie crusts... and... 
we've found that adding a tbsp of vinegar helps make a flakier crust, more like what you'd get with shortening.

In the oven after adding the meringue to the cooled pie.

Just out of the oven...
Doesn't it look yummy?

Tim volunteered to be both guinea pig and blog "model..."
And it was... delightfully yummy, that is!
If you don't believe me, just ask Tim!

You can be sure we'll be making this again!


this week's gratitude list:

(#s 2878 - 2904)

fun in the kitchen with my Nadi-girl!

for not relying on Google to tell me what to do

creative solutions

creative cooking

more rain than I've ever seen in Niger

lots of arrivals - meeting new friends and renewing acquaintance with old friends

watching the Olympics

internet that has been sufficiently fast to allow us to actually stream some events live - since London is almost the same time zone!

new, unimaginably fast world record in women's 100 m butterfly - at least I couldn't have even imagined it many moons ago when that was my best event

it's my last week working in the business office - finished just in time for school to start up again at Sahel

company for the week - colleagues from Benin have been up this past week. They have four boys. Brendan is calling his bedroom the "party room!"

our company brought their pet monkey... his name is Dexter. The kids are highly amused, particularly Rebekah (Why am I not surprised?)

Lego contraptions

dancing tinikling late at night

the good tired that comes from having fun...

...so tired, in fact, that my exhausted little boy feel asleep, sitting straight up in a metal chair during the church service last night. I didn't even notice (he was sitting a row ahead) until I did notice that everyone else had gotten up and headed for the finger foods and fellowship snack after the service... except him!

first finding and then discovering that M&M LOVES unsweetened cranberry juice (since it is her "medelin" (i.e. M&M-ese for medicine), that's not just a good thing but a GREAT thing!

watching a non-destructive (I think) wash of water down a waddi - from very far away!

finding 5 pounds of homemade meatballs sufficient to feed 20 people, including several big boys... especially since I had my moments of doubt as they started dishing out their plates!

lots of homemade donuts (powdered sugar cake donuts, glazed twists, powdered suar lemon and raspberry-filled for the last Saturday morning of the month

almost emptying the freezer so we can defrost and clean it later this week

blogging while littlest Wrightling brushes my hair (she claims she's looking for lice... that's a whole other story and please DON'T ask!)

getting ready to sort through clothes and figure out what is still acceptable to use at school

looking forward to a quiet weekend next weekend - after all our visitors of the past week and one-half... before the new school year starts

friends who make the effort to stay in touch, even though their lives are busy

things I'm learning as I prepare to teach a seminar on meeting the needs of exceptional learners... in French (i.e. I'm teaching in French)

it still never fails to amaze me that, by God's grace, I actually can communicate in another language

29 July 2012

Be Still My Soul

I recently asked a friend how she'd like me to pray for her.

Her response?

"I have been mulling over the words of Be Still my Soul... [Pray] that the truth of those words would begin to touch my reality."

So, now I've been praying and musing on those words - praying for my friend. I've started praying them for myself and my family too, as we still wait and wonder about so very many unknowns on the cusp of a new school year....

Be still, my soul; the Lord is on thy side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.

Be still, my soul; thy best, thy heavenly, Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul; thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as He has the past.

Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul; the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Be still, my soul, though dearest friends depart
And all is darkened in the vale of tears;
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrows and thy fears.

Be still, my soul; thy Jesus can repay
From His own fulness all He takes away.

Be still, my soul; the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord,

When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love's purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul; when change and tears are past,
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

Be still, my soul: begin the song of praise
On earth, believing, to Thy Lord on high;
Acknowledge Him in all thy words and ways,
So shall He view thee with a well pleased eye.
Be still, my soul: the Sun of life divine
Through passing clouds shall but more brightly shine.

Original German lyrics by Katharina von Schlegel
Translation into English, a century later, by Jane Borthwick
Music is from Finlandia, by Jean Sibelius

28 July 2012

Friday Night @ the Dunes - Last Installment

See if you can guess what all of these photos have in common (?) -
and hence - why I grouped them together.

R-O-A-S-T-I-N-G     M-A-R-S-H-M-A-L-L-O-W-S
What little girl doesn't love that?

Those clouds look almost too amazing to be true.
Promise - I didn't photoshop them in.

An amazing setting to relax and read a good book.

Same photo, but it has such an ominous feel as a black and white, don't you think?

See the sparks!

This photo really appeals to me - maybe because it captured her melancholy mood at the moment. This was when I informed her that she was no longer to play on the big dune but had to stay with me on our blanket because it was too dark and I didn't want to lose her out there in all that big, open and ever darkening space.

You also get a tiny glimpse of the lights of Niamey in the distance.

My friend and fellow photographer, Shannon -
and one of our few glimpses of the moon that night.

I also saw a falling star - but didn't capture that one digitally!

Have you figured out which three of my girls,
silhoutted against the last bit of color in the sky, 
are pointing out the airplane flying overhead?

Niamey from a distance

"Bop it!" entertainment

This just might be my favorite picture out of this bunch.
Biggest girl snuggling littlest girl,
both watching the fire.

And if you still haven't had a chance to check out the rest of the photos from this night? Here you go!

27 July 2012

5 Minute Friday ~ Beyond

Joining up with Lisa-Jo @ Gypsy Mama because...

"It’s Five Minute Friday free write time!

Where a flash mob of folks spend five minutes all writing on the same topic and then share ‘em over here.

Want to know how Five Minute Friday got started and how to participate? All the details are
here. And every week I’ll pick a post that caught my eye and share it down there in my side bar – see where it says “Featured Five Minute Friday”? Yea -that could be you!

Because, as we all know, the most important rule of Five Minute Friday is leaving an encouraging comment for the person who linked up before you. So getting to feature one of your fine posts is like frosting as far as I’m concerned.

So, set your timer, clear your head, for five minutes of free writing without worrying about getting it right.

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community..

OK, are you ready? Please give me your best five minutes on..."


"How much do you love me?"

Every kid asks that question sometime, I think. All eight of mine have. If we're honest, we all keep asking that question the entirety of our lives. We want to know that someone, somewhere out there, loves us. We want to be reassured.

"How much do you love me?"

My husband made a game of it. "I love you 7 billion 2 hundred and 43 thousand one hundred and sixty-two!" said teasingly. It was always some number, crazy complicated and silly crazy huge. And then child comes up with something equally, sweetly confuse. 

Every single one of our eight children love this game... still; it's code for "I love you, Daddy. I want your attention and a hug, too."

As we've home-schooled, read books, watched movies, we've added new phrases. So if you ever pop over for a cup of late morning tea and a chat, you might hear...

"I love you all the way to the moon!"

"I love you all the way to the moon, around it five times and back!"

"I love you all the way to the moon and back 75 times today."

"I love you all the way to the moon and back 75 times today and every day for the next 75 years."

"I love you till all the fur's rubbed off and a fairy makes you real."

"I love you forever and ever and its a very long time!"

"Take that bit of fluff out of your ear and listen to me tell you just how much Iove you..."

"I love you to infinity and beyond."

Then littlest one sleepily whispered one evening... "I love you to inifinity and beyond and then all the way back home to our couch for a little 'nuggle."

She's too young to grasp the significance of what she said, but she put into words for me an attempt to wrap in words the kind of love God has and enables His own to share.

Think about it:
"I love you to inifinity and beyond and then all the way back home to our couch for a little 'nuggle."
"I don’t think we always know what it is that causes hearts to connect and click and for [love] to grow. But... to endure, you have to learn to love the other not just because of the wonderful things you see or in spite of the frustrating, annoying things. I think you also have to let those annoying and frustrating things become dear to you, too – because they are part and parcel... it is also in those areas, sometimes, where it is easiest to see God working…" **

Because love travels with the one loved to infinity and beyond... and then comes back to the nitty gritty of every day real life and continues to hang out, there, too.

**Words I wrote, jjust the other day, to my lovely friend.


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