30 September 2012

On what I've learned about banana trees...

... and it seems like a lot, especially since we've got several in our garden and I've never watched them grow before!

First of all, they aren't "trees," at least in the normal sense of of what I consider trees,  because they don't have a trunk. What you see are huge leaves that push up and out of a mat underground.

Secondly, they do not reproduce using seeds or a typical germination process. In the grand scheme of things, that is relatively rare. New shoots pop up out of that mat, all around the original. Those new plants are called suckers.

Another interesting tidbit? It is considered a part of the same family, botanically speaking,  as the tomato, papaya, avocado and guava. Even harder to wrap my mind around? The fruit, technically speaking once again, is called a berry.


Each banana plant/leaf bears fruit only once. As the berries grow and ripen, the stalk leans under the heavy weight. After the "berries" have ripened (or are almost there), you remove the bunch and then cut back the leaves, almost right to the ground. Those leaves make excellent compost/fertilizer for the rest of the garden. 

This fact makes me think of Jesus. Jesus bore the weight of my sin to produce the fruit of righteousness in my life, once and for all, and then He died. I just find it amazing that I can seen nature pointing to the Gospel message in so many ways, like this, all around me.

We've tried to plant banana trees before. Several years ago, in fact, we planted three. They weren't getting enough sun, and the leaves always looked pale and of course there was no fruit. Then, we moved them out into the middle of our yard where they received plenty of sun. For a long time, they looked relatively healthy, but they remained small and still produced no fruit. This time, we have the trees planted in our garden that receives full sun, almost the entire day. It is watered almost continually by the run off from two bathrooms sinks and showers as well as our washing machine. And here, they are thriving magnificently, in this naturally warm (I'd argue downright hot) environment, persistently  watered and inundated with light from the sun. In our experience, even when the plant looked okay, either no fruit developed at all or those ones that did were tiny and all skin with very little of the sweet flesh that make bananas such a treat. 

I see another lesson in that detail. As a child of the Almighty God, I will not be healthy - growing and producing fruit - unless I'm regularly being fed by the water of the word and the continual, abiding presence of the Son. Even if everything looks good to others, any fruit produced will be essentially useless. 

The larger the banana bunch that the banana tree produces, the sooner the tree begins to lean. If is not braced up, the tree will collapse and the fruit growing out of it will die instead of maturing.

This reminds me of the importance of fervent prayer to support those who are leaders in our churches. Those leaders are giving out much and sometimes need the extra bracing and fortification of incessant, intercessory prayer on their behalf.

According to scientists and nutritionists, men should value the banana as one of the earth's most important fruits. A quick on line google for information reveals the many healing properties of bananas. Some of those include improving anemic blood, helping with the control of high blood pressure, enhancing leaning ability, combating digestive issues, alleviating symptoms of clinical depression, preventing heartburn, reducing morning sickness, discouraging mosquito bites - and making them itch less if you rub just a bit directly one of those itchy bumps, regulating weight problems, and maintaining healthy body temperature, to name a few. We even have friends who've rubbed their skin with the inside of a banana peel to get rid of warts. 

For such a simple, unassuming... perhaps even undervalued... plant, I think it is an impressive reminder of God's creativity, love and provision - and I think it is so neat how little things about it point to Him as Savior and Redeemer.

What about you?

29 September 2012

Lovin' those Lessons

All three of our big girls started horseback riding lessons - Thursday nights. This is Rebekah's 3rd year... It's the first time around for both Nadia and Anna. Only prob? Thursday night conflicts with our plan to head to the Rec Center and watch one of our favorite programs on the satellite tv. Oh well... horses trump tv any day, at least in this household.

First lesson... and I can't believe we didn't get photos - bad mama!

Instead, here are some photos that Anna shot (goofing around with her Uncle Steve while he was here) at one of Rebekah's final lessons before the rainy season vacation.



28 September 2012

Five Minute Friday ~ Grasp

Joining up with Lisa Jo "...where you are welcome to be a writer.

...where a beautiful crowd spends five minutes all writing on the same topic and then sharing 'em over here.

  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..

Oh and Ahem, if you would take pity and turn off comment verification, it would make leaving some love on your post that much easier for folks! 
OK, are you ready? Please give us your best five minutes on...


"Grrrrrrr... aaasssp."

"G... aaasssp."

"Very close. Try again. Grrrrrrr... aaasssp."

"G... arrrrsp."

"You were closer the first time. Look here. You moved the "r" behind the a instead of the front of the a sound. Make sure your a always sounds like the a in cat. I know you're working really hard. Can you try it once again. Grrrrrrr... aaasssp." 

"G...uh... wr... aaasssp."

"That's not exactly right, but it is much better... Good job. Now let's try another r sound..."

I've been having conversations like this a lot lately. My little man struggles with speech and language. We live on the backside of the desert where the nearest speech and language pathologist is hundreds of miles distant. And so, it is up to me to try and help him navigate this path. This really is the only "academic" area of schooling and teaching my kids where I feel totally overwhelmed and totally underprepared. That's not to say that it is always easy! It isn't - not at all. But in all of those other areas, I love and look forward to the challenge and I see big leaps and gains and jumps in progress frequently.

This? I worry that if I can't get it right, he'll always carry around with him this mark of his mama's failure. That people will mock him and his speech behind his back - even if they don't to his face. I can't bear that thought. He's such an open, happy-go-lucky, cheerful and friendly little guy. And we all know that as he moves closer and closer to middle school and junior high that things like funny speech can become more noticeable and more important to peers and strangers than his generous welcoming heart.

One of the things I'm learning in speech and language remediation is how you search and search to find a place or a word where the student makes the desired sound correctly... and you have him mentally and even physically grasp onto that. He practices and tries and finally isolates a particular sound. Next, he'll think of that other word, one where he's got it right, to try and help him correctly pronounce it in other words and situations. He has to concentrate on the position of his tongue, his lips, his teeth, his jaw... even how he is sitting when he tries to enunciate the word... in the hopes that what he's learned and mastered once in another situation will transfer to this new word.

The Lord seems to be using a similar therapeutic strategy with me these days. As I start 

to doubt, 
     to wonder, 
          to fear, 
               to tremble deep within, 
                     to get angry, 
                            to lose all confidence in Him and myself...

(and it seems like I do a lot lately), He silently points out a time when I wasn't like that, when I was trusting and confident in what He was doing, even when I didn't understand, when I was trusting Him and His leading rather than my own ability. He offers that as something for me to grasp tightly so that I can concentrate on the position of my heart, my mind, my spirit and soul, my body... in the hopes that what I've learned and mastered once in another situation will transplant and begin to take root again, here and now.

27 September 2012

Learning from One of His Valiant Ones

It’s been almost 12 years serving alongside my husband, raising our family, living in a place dry and dusty, difficult and destitute… It is hard to imagine anyone choosing to be here, at least not without the call of God pushing them. But I do. In fact, there’s no place in the world I’d rather be. It is here that God fleshed out for me what it means to be His woman of valor.

I could write about several women who’ve impacted my life: Mamata, struggling to learn to read at nearly 70 years of age, desperately desiring God’s Word and so she continues to plug away, despite ridicule and ostracism from her Muslim family. I could share about Aissa and Alarba, co-wives to a man who came to know Jesus not too many years ago. They, in an impossible-for-me-to-understand-situation, live and love and work together as friends, encouraging each other in their walk with the Lord, working side by side hour after long hour frying fish and donuts to sell in the market, and caring for their uniquely blended family. I could have… but didn’t choose any of those women....

To continue reading, please join me today over at Missionary Mom's Companion. Certainly hope to see you there!

26 September 2012

Walk with Him Wednesday ~ Why do we forget... or not expect... it?

Suffering, I mean.

Stop and think of all the verses that remind us we will experience suffering - and yet we seem so surprised and offended when it happens.

For to you it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake... Phil 1:29
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:11-12
...strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. "We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God," they said. Acts 14:22
But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. AND DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, AND DO NOT BE TROUBLED, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame. For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong. For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; 1 Peter 3.14-18
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good. 1 Peter 4.12-19
Yesterday was one of those days where if someone would have given me a plane ticket, I so would have been out of here, and without a backward glance. 

It had been hot and sticky most of the day... I was sweaty, stinky and wanting to get everything done so I could take a cool shower. Up before 5, I'd been going all day and I still had some emails I needed to write, dinner to prepare and then a kitchen to clean up, homework to supervise, Anna's work to grade and her lessons to get ready for the next day. A crazy, itchy rash I've had for a month or so on my ankle was driving me crazy. Then there was the headache from several bouncy trips over our nice pot-holey roads and washouts. We'd gotten some sad-bad news at school and after that, another warning about the security situation in the country. To top everything off the internet crashed and the power went out for a bit and Tim was working late in the studio... and the water company turned the water off, completely, with no warning.

It doesn't sound like suffering... not the real stuff. Like I said last week, I don't even pretend to claim that I grasp what it means to suffer or significantly sacrifice as a result of my faith or because I'm so compelled by God's great love. I certainly didn't receive a flogging; I wasn't thrown into prison or forbidden to do the very thing God had asked me to do.

Last night, though? In the middle of my self-pity party? It sure felt like it. 

Suffering, even piddly and annoying stuff like all of the irritating ick described above makes it hard to live contentment, gratefulness, thankfulness... a life of praise bringing glory to God. It felt much better to close my door (probably more forcefully than necessary), mutter at the Lord, scowl and pick at my kids and fume inside at my husband because he was sitting in the air-con in the studio while the house felt like it was falling apart. 

And then I remember what I've been studying this week.

Acts 5
They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. “Go, stand in the temple courts,” he said, “and tell the people the full message of this new life...” 

Having brought the apostles, they made them appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.”

Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than men! 

They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.

The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.

As I've read this passage several times this week, the Holy Spirit keeps drawing my heart back to some key points:

  1. The apostles' suffering was a direct consequence of their obedience to God.
  2. The apostles suffered because they did not meet men's expectations.
  3. The apostles saw their suffering as being counted as worthy by God.
  4. This suffering helped and empower the apostles as they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news.
Maybe someday, the Lord will grow me enough so that I can adopt the attitude of those mighty men... where the experience of suffering doesn't discourage but rather reminds me of the One for Whom I suffer... and suffering then emboldens and vests me with spiritual armor to keep on pressing on... joyfully following Him... regardless...

Wordless Wednesday - A Pair-a-Pigeons

Photos by Anna

25 September 2012

Everybody should get to hear their 2nd grade boy read this!

"Sunrise Elementary School had a BIG problem.

The new librarian, Miss Lotta Scales, was a real dragon.

Miss Lotta Scales was hired to guard the Library. And she took her job seriously: hundreds of new, clean books replaced the old, smudged ones. These shining gems neatly lined the shelves of her library lair in perfect order -- no 398.2s in the 500s, and absolutely no fiction among the biographies.

She kept a fiery eye out to make sure no one removed any books from the shelves. Her motto was, 'A place for everything, and that's where it stays.'

The very thought of sticky little fingers



her precious books just made her hot under the collar.

Miss Scales thought that the way some books spread an unfounded fear of dragons was positively inflammatory.

'Books that depict cruelty to dragons should never have been published in the first place.'
She got so fired up about this, she didn't just discard the books she didn't like, she incinerated them.

The kids watched in awe.

'Well, that settles it.' whispered Albert Hoops. 'Where there's smoke, there's fire, and that Miss Scales is a real dragon, all right.'

Not surprisingly, the kids at Sunrise Elementary School began to dread Library Day. It wasn't long before the teachers stopped sending the children to the Library: they kept coming back singed.

First, the principal tried to reason with Miss Scales, but his plan backfired. Instead of cooling her down, he just fanned the flames.

'And finally, don't forget who does the hiring, Miss Scales,' sputtered the principal.

'Oh really? And who does the firing?' asked Miss Scales with a glare and a flare that caught his tie on fire.

'Now cut that out," said the principal as he waved the smoke out of his face.

'No smoking in the Library,' Miss Lotta Scales said drily."

This book has to rank right up there as one of my "most delighting" kids' books to listen to one of my tribe read. Just look at the grin on my boy's face!!! I'd listen to his giggles as he'd sound out one of the harder, very tongue in cheek phrases and caught their silly meaning.

I can't wait to listen to him read it AGAIN!


The above excerpt is from the book, The Library Dragon, written by Carmen Agra Deedy and illustrated by Michael P. White.

She's written a sequel, too, called

You can read about it at this blog post:


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