31 December 2012

Multitude Monday - 1000 Gifts ~ taking a break from the "Encountering Jesus" series to share these photos...

...  and some thanksgiving from our camping trip to Parc W

this week's gratitude list:

(#'s 3415 - 3467)

Christmas presents for the whole family and that the whole family enjoys, together

being truly away from the city for the first time in more than 2.5 years

safety even with two tires blowing apart while we were traveling

four wheel drive

warm afternoon sun (see the croc?)

amazing views

big smiles

riding on the roof

Land Cruiser packed as full as we can get it

the beautiful Niger River

rocks to climb

watching her enjoy her first visit to the park

more big smiles

girls enjoying the view with their daddy

living life a little on the edge... M&M specializes in this!

even more big smiles

watching for and actually seeing real live wild elephants on that island

life that grows in dry and rocky places

bright blue skies

life-giving river... peace like a river...

binoculars and little animal spotters (she was awesome at finding monkeys... takes one to know one, perhaps?)

amazing baobab trees


gazelles and other deer-like-creatures

finding nourishment even when it looks like there isn't much there

running free


places to hide

monkeys chattering on a high ridge (you can see one of them if you look carefully!)


bird-watching some very, very LARGE birds

families... even if they are a family of warthogs

the gift of camouflage

magnificent creatures

climbing trees

amazing and LARGE animal constructions

a bird's eye view

mighty birds of prey and the power they symbolize

night skies

full moons

a great camp site

cooking over a campfire (bacon and eggs for breakfast)

roasted homemade marshmallows - any time of the day

warm baths with tea kettle warmed water

mosquito nets

no scorpions in/under the tent this year

packing up to go home

a comfy next where littlers can ride

bright in the midst of barren

delicate, fragile beauty

flowers blooming, life beginning anew, fresh starts... after the fire
a new year arriving bringing new life blooming and and fresh starts beginning

Happy New Year, 2013!

May you experience 
(and don't forget to count... 
for you will never count them all...) 
God's great and many blessings, 
today and throughout the year

30 December 2012

Best of Our "Wright"ing Pad... 2012

Which 2012 posts can claim the title of "Best? 

Well, there are a few ways of measuring: how many views a particular post receives (some of which are spam), or how much conversation it provokes (in other words the number of comments - something has to be somewhat compelling to prompt people to actually respond and dialogue a bit based on what I've written). 

Sometimes, the two do not coincide... "

There is also a third measure - one that is much more subjective... and that one includes my perception - which posts affected me the most in the writing and publishing of them?

Curiosity killed the cat. And I was curious - I've also killed a lot of time while sitting around feeling a bit on the icky side navigating my way through all those "stats" and records and old posts to compile this list my attempt to merge the above measures. 

Without further ado? Voilà! 

2012's Twenty (out of more than 350) 
Most Popular Posts


"...I'm talking, of course, about Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, the fictional hero of the TV series by the same name. As the heroine, she's smart, usually sophisticated, spunky, stubborn, courageous, persistent, a little bit proud, willing to learn, a respecter of people regardless, full of integrity as well as full of her own ideas of how things should be... and more than willing to work to fit them into her idealistic perspectives. Besides that, she's also beautiful, has a really handsome beau, fun and talented kids and most of the time can laugh at herself and her mistakes."

What can I say? I'm a die-hard fan! But the fact that so many of you checked out this post indicates there are others of you out there! :-)


"A gentle and quiet spirit can sincerely accept and receive thankfulness offered from the heart of another... without discounting or brushing it off,  downplaying their own service as nothing. A gentle and quiet spirit has the confidence to say, 'Yes, serving you cost me something... and it was my great privilege to pay that price, to love you in such a way.' And now I'm wondering... Does God ever say thank you to me? Does He appreciate the earthly cost (which on many days I've counted and am more than willing to pay) that obeying and following Him exacts?"

This Five Minute Friday post addresses one of those recurrent questions I'm always asking myself.


We keep trying to convince them...

The most recent post in the list... Who knows? If it had been around longer, it might have crept further up the popularity scale! It's fun to see posts whose purpose is really nothing other than to prompt a smile so well liked.



"Wow! I knew it had been a few weeks since my last Multitude Monday post... I didn't realize it had been nearly a month. Internet has been bipolar in this country for the last month...."

This post received several views as well as comments - probably because I'd disappeared off the scene for almost 4 weeks due to W. African Internet craziness. It was also one of my favorite "discussion" questions from the year.


"...trees must send down their tap root first. They must put that root down deep, penetrating to a more secure source of water than just daily surface watering. That deep root also helps secure the tree during storms because in sandy soil, winds can easily take out a tree with out a profound anchor. Sometimes it is easy to look at that tree and assume that nothing is happening, only because I can't see it."

This reminder that things are not always as they appear, an area where the Lord was convicting me, seemed to touch a chord in others as well.


"...She doesn't let me gripe and complain about my husband... she'll listen and then say something that softly points out where my thinking was wrong all along or remind that I need to be gracious. Times when I'm feeling overwhelmed-discouraged-totally out of my league, her typical first response is to pray and trust - so unlike my internal kicking and fighting and fearfulness."

The presence of this post on the list both surprised and delighted me. These words truly come from the heart... I wish each one of you could have a friend like this dear lady.


I love that my oldest is a thinker and a dialoguer... We had some great conversation provoked by this John MacArthur quote: "We should not be entertained by the sins for which Christ died." Convicting quote, isn't it?



"Aren't those wide, bright orange eyes phenomenal?  They belong to a northern white-faced Scops owl, that we've recently had living with us. A friend told us that one of the markets in town had it in a cage for sale - and that it was looking pretty traumatized.  Brendan asked, told us he had the money - and so Tim took him to get it. This is the second time our oldest has tried to raise/rehabilitate one..."

I'd totally forgotten about this post, but I think it is cool that it made the final cut for this year's top twenty. And I ask you again, aren't those wide, bright orange eyes phenomenal? Be sure and click over to this post for a much larger, even more impressive version of the picture.


This is one of our favorite recipes to make, especially during the cooler months of the year when we tend to build fires often and want to roast marshmallows. This was our first attempt and we documented at least some of the steps with photos. For what it is worth, marshmallows are not only easy, but fun to make and using honey instead of corn syrup gives them an incredible flavor!


"...we were exhorted to protect our hearts from all wickedness and envy... for when we allow our hearts to traipse down either or both of those two paths, our actions will not be long in following. The speaker particularly emphasized the importance of knowing God (not just about Him, but being in an active, growing relationship with Him) and discernment - just because something is culturally acceptable does not disqualify the possibility that is evil or that it might result in an envious spirit.... Lord clearly teaches that we are the ones who "let" our hearts be troubled - or in other words, a troubled heart is avoidable. Sunday night, we were encouraged that 1) an eternal perspective, 2) knowing Christ (again!) because if we know Jesus, then we know the Father... in a much less traumatic way, and 3) remembering and relying on the comforting presence of the Holy Spirit are all absolutely essential to an untroubled heart. That phrase, "do not let your heart..." is found twice in this chapter, and is how the Lord counseled His disciples in those last moments before His arrest. Seems like pretty key information for me to practice, before my heart is seized by trouble or fear..."

Considering the fact that I do a Multitude Monday post each week, I guess it shouldn't surprise me that a couple of these made this list... I found myself challenged by the reminders within as I reread this post today.


"In my daughter's eyes, 
I am a hero,
I am strong and wise, 
And I know no fear,
But the truth is plain to see,
She was sent to rescue me -I see who I want to be,
In my daughter's eyes...."

This might have been my favorite post all year long... I love the message in the song and I love my little girl. Seriously, if you click over to this post, take a minute to listen to the song....


"My gang asks, "Can Uncle Joe come over?" even more than they ask if I'll take them to the pool - in this land of 120' heat and common power cuts, that very fact must give you some idea of what a favorite he is! Come to think of it, the kids may actually ask more frequently than Andi does...  Joe likes country music, too... he's converted Andi and all the kids (my husband, essentially a redneck, well, he was already a fan - especially if a song had to do with pick up trucks or hunting squirrels and deer). So, today, we were all working and cleaning here at the house, and Joe was sharing some of his collection with us. I heard the following song... at first, I thought it was just another round of nostalgic sentimentality... boy was I wrong. This song may be old news for y'all - but this was the first time I'd every heard it.  Voilà! My new favorite!"

Yep! Another song post... I was introduced to some pretty wonderful songs this past year!


"I remember so clearly traipsing down the stairs, thinking I was dressed to kill and lookin' pretty chic... and hopin' I wouldn't make eye contact with Mom? 'Cause I knew if I did, I'd be plodding back up those stairs and trudging down the hallway, probably slightly  slamming (if I really did, I'd be back downstairs, practicing it again while demonstrating the "right" attitude) the door, sequestered until I removed some make-up, changed my clothes, 'did something normal' with my hair or some combination of all three. I was usually rolling my eyes and muttering as I trudged. Now? Years have gone by and how the times have changed! Now I'm the one with teenage daughters (and a niece on loan for a year)."

Mothers... teenagers daughters... clothes....  Heavenly Father... me... spiritual wardrobe - lots of parallels, lots in common, lots still to learn.


This post contains lots of photos, all taken by Anna, of many of the fabulous people who make up our expat community here in Niamey. I love these photos! But it was another post that surprised me to even make the list, much less be in the top ten. Maybe it is a credit to Anna's developing photography skills?


"Back in September, I sat in on what has to be, hands down, one of the best English Lit classes...... EVER! God knew I needed it, too - it came nipping on the heels of one of those "terrible, horrible, no good, very bad I-think-I'll-go-to-Australia" sorts of days. I don't actually teach English Lit and I'm not working on any additional degrees - so why was I hanging out in a tenth grade English Lit class?..."

Love sitting in on this class... Particularly loved that particular class on that particular day! It is wonderful being a part of a Christian school where we can openly talk about this sort of stuff... My only surprise was that this post just missed the top 5!


Feisty adorableness -
ornery obstinance -
annoying arrogance -
captivating confidence - 
charming cheekiness...

How could I confine you to stay now, in this moment?
For you are dreaming of the future...
an amazing woman-to-be...

A more or less free verse poem all about our littlest one... it struck a chord in other mama hearts as well.


"Catchy quote, isn't it? 'Rain or no rain, God still reigns' I didn't come up with it. I wish I could claim those pithy, powerful and properly "spot-on" words as my own. But they aren't. They're hers... as is this picture that was my fb banner for a week. (And you should go check out her site sometime. I've appreciated everything I've seen there so far.)"

Several hundred views since I posted this section of my gratitude journal... I think the title is the best part, and that's the part I didn't come up with!

#2 & #3

I'm listing several posts tied for 2nd and 3rd places in this countdown - they all discuss the flooding of Sahel's campus and have been shared many times, linked to many times, etc., etc., etc. I'll link to them once again, here, in chronological order.


"It's kinda weird. We went home from school on a Friday afternoon... and now three plus weeks later, we've still not gotten to Monday. I guess some (certainly students, maybe teachers) might rejoice under those circumstances. But then I think of a Sesame Street episode where Elmo (Rebekah used to LOVE Elmo) learned that Christmas every day wasn't nearly as great as he imagined it might be - it lost some of its unique special-ness when it became a common thing. I think the same thing is true, at least for my kids, who at first found the reprieve from school and the Herculean work efforts exciting and stimulating, but are now ready to rediscover routine and almost anxious to return to the classroom environment. This has gotten me to thinking about time - and how much we complain about it. Have you ever noticed that?..."

Since September when I first published this post, it has received nearly 1000 visits. It, too, discusses repercussions pertaining to the inundation of the Sahel campus, but I also go on to reflect on the passing of time, how we see, use and value time. This post has been far and away the most popular post of 2012... and the third most popular post ever in the history of Our "Wright"-ing Pad!


Comment and let me know what you've appreciated 
as you've followed Our "Wright"-ing Pad over the course of the past year. 

And may God bless you abundantly in 2013!


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