16 December 2015

Tempted to Tell All

“Mama, when we were at the library the other day, I was tempted to tell someone about Jesus and how He was born to save us. Is that wrong?”


I couldn’t help but smile.

Funny question for a missionary kid to be asking…

After all, isn’t that what missionaries do? Isn’t that what we teach kids that missionaries do?

Missionaries go, into ALL the world for this reason: telling ALL who have never heard or who have never believed or who just need to be reminded – ALL about Jesus.

The message is first one of confrontation – the horribly bad news that ALL, are sinners and that as sinners, we are unable – in and of ourselves – to DO ANYTHING to remedy our sin problem. Which brings us to the second part of the bad news: the required punishment for any and every sin is death.

Grasping that part of the message is necessary; thankfully it doesn’t stop there or we would ALL be without hope.

The second half of the missionary message tells of reconciliation and restoration. It’s the hopeful part… the better part.

ALL men need someone to save them. So God sent ONE, His Son.




It is what we celebrate during this holy season.

Jesus came – born as a baby, but also born to die… for ALL men.

He willingly and sacrificially took the punishment for ALL sin so that ALL men could be reconciled to God. The Good News gets even better. Jesus didn’t stay dead. God brought Him out of the tomb, alive and conquering death. Because He lives, ALL men who believe this merciful message of grace and then trust Him have the hope of ALL eternity together with Him.

So I smiled when my little one asked her question. And I told her, “Of course it’s not wrong!”

She grinned and said that next time, she’d be kind by listening to God when He was tempting her to tell…and we went on with our day… and week…

God, however, wasn’t finished with me yet. He had an additional thought with which I need to wrestle so He kept bringing my mind back around to her question.


Particularly the phrase tempted to tell....

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Please join me over at Missionary Mom's Companion (I posted last weekend) to read the rest of this repost from Christmas time, last year...

13 December 2015

Five Minute Friday ~ Reflect

Lots to reflect on this year...

So many changes... Moving... More goodbyes... New place... New school... New (to some of us) language... New pets... Six living at home instead of eight...

Although, I must say - not much has actually surprised me. This year has been hard where I expected it to be hard, exciting where I expected it to be exciting, edifying where I expected it to be edifying. Been nice to have a year where I've felt like God prepared me in advance and nothing really caught me off guard. (I certainly don't expect it to always be like that.)

But I'm thankful. I've needed an a year where expectations and realities pretty well lined up.

Well, except for this one thing.

Having my big ones off and far away has been a lot different than I expected. I miss them. Something awful. I think about them everyday, often throughout the day. I pray for them more than I ever dreamed possible to remember to pray for anyone. But I'm also loving this season.


We are learning to communicate in a new way, over distances, and to work through challenges with our kids - now as young adults. They have freedom to make decisions that we don't necessarily like or that we feel are unwise. They procrastinate... and have to figure out their own way out of any resulting problems. They learn to relate to other family members and their communities without any buffer of Daddy and Mama. They are adventurers and life explorers on a great adventure and I get a front row seat as they discover their futures and God's plans for their lives. From where I sit? Best show ever! It is exciting and fun and a privilege to play a much smaller than before part.

I love hearing about something taking place in my girl's life via one of her sisters and Snapchat. It is fun to see pictures on Facebook of  my big ones and the life they are living... even when I'm not a daily part of that life.

Yes, I miss them.

But I wouldn't change a thing.


This is as it should be, and I'm not going to bemoan the physical distance separating and exponentially limited time together. I've prayed almost all of their lives that these breathtaking (Yes! They do take my breath away on an almost daily basis for both good and bad reasons - I'm totally and 100% biased!) young people would be tools of God, used by Him to impact whatever "world" He gives them in which to live. I still pray that...


And then there's this. With the big two not such a physical presence in our daily lives, the next two have had opportunities to shine unfiltered. And it has been fun! I think that sometimes, and probably unintentionally, older siblings tend to shadow over their younger ones. When those older ones move on and into these different life stages, it gives us, as parents, an opportunity to see the next ones in line in a totally different light.


And I'm finding them hilarious, fascinating, challenging, sometimes annoying, always entertaining and just downright fun to be with.

As parents, we blink and they become.

But this parent doesn't have time to spend missing the past and or the desire to long for those wonderful years of "ago" and littles and all my "ducklings" under wing, in a row.

I'll say it again: the right here and right now is just too wonderful - be it in person or via Skype!


27 November 2015

Of Sheep and Wolves, of Serpents and Doves

It happened in the car while bringing the kids home from school sometime this year… nothing extraordinary or life changing, but I can’t stop thinking about it.


As missionaries on support learning a new ministry in a new place (that is just about as polar opposite as possible from where we were), we are still figuring out how to make everything work: daily schedules, doctor appointments, health insurance, where to go for car repairs, credits for graduation, future college plans, the budget… Recently, we ran into that not uncommon problem of “more month than money” requiring, for one, creativity in the kitchen – the idea being to use up what was there without running to the store for more. 

A frequent after school car ride occurrence is a kids’ critique of the lunches I packed and sent. That day, most of what I’d heard was that lunch was “Yummy!” but there weren’t enough crackers to go with the soup. So I looked over at my girl who’d only received a handful of broken cracker pieces and crumbs from the bottom of the bag and asked her if she was upset. She smiled and said, “No, Mama. I really just thought it was sweet of you to crumble up the crackers for me to put in my soup.”

Wow! My eyes filled with tears. I was both speechless… and immediately convicted!

She knows I love her. She trusts me. She assumed the best possible motivation for what she found in her lunch that day.

Do you ever wonder what our world would be like if we all chose to act and believe like my teenage daughter did that afternoon?

First? What if those of us who follow Christ as Savior and King rested in His sovereignty? What if we believed that whatever He allowed/allows, somehow He works so that it is for good. What if we then acted correspondingly, instead of allowing fear or anger or jealousy to dictate thoughts, words, actions and reactions?

Secondly? What if we chose to first assume good intentions, especially by those who’ve demonstrated time and again that they love and/or care about us? What if we chose to trust proven confidence, even when we don’t exactly see why we should.

Thirdly? What if we recognized that the image of God stamped upon and within each human means that sometimes (by God’s grace and mercy), men and women are capable of amazing sacrifice, generosity, wisdom, creativeness and perseverance? And I don’t just mean the Christians of the world. What if our initial response was to look for that image of God in others, regardless of faith profession, because God’s Word teaches it is there?

Perhaps that is a "utopic" view of the world.

I was taught through years of Sunday school truths like:

  • “The heart is deceitful, above all things, and desperately wicked....
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To read the rest, please join me at 

13 November 2015

Five Minute Friday ~ Weary

Well, it wasn't the word that I WOULD have chosen...

But it does describe, quite accurately, how I'm feeling today.

The last few weeks have been challenging - not in the totally-overwhelmed-can't-do-this-another-day sort of way...

...but rather in the we've-been-at-this-for-a-really-long-time-and-I'm-way-past-ready-to-see-the-last-bend-in-this-mini-marathon sort of way.


First, one kid got sick... the upchuck-throw-it-up-kind that even after twenty years of parenting - including parenting eight kids in a land where abundant amoebas and giardias and plasmodia meant not unfrequent bouts of vomiting chez nous - that particular illness always leaves me nauseated and sick feeling even when I'm not. It also means I was running up and down the stairs at intervals during sick nights to check on said child.

Then, two more got sick... thankfully it was just the sneazy, snotty nose stuff. Until it turned into the coughing at night until we did the steamy shower so that everyone could rest for a few hours before the coughing started all over again. That lasted two weeks.

But, about halfway through that round, another one fell. Same story, different verse. Sometimes, I wish I was one of those moms who could sleep through others coughing at night. I used to be able to. Then we had our own mini-epidemic of pertussis. Four out of eight, including one still not a year old. Now, I awake in a panic during night-time coughing spells. ALMOST. EVERY. TIME. 

We'd reached what I was thinking was the final bend in this race. I started to relax, thinking I'd be able to get to all those things that needed to be done, but that I'd pushed aside because I was just weary and lacking the oomph to get anything much past the critical-urgent done. Then a night time tap and a hubby with severe abdominal pain. A next day trip to the ER, two days of waiting rooms, tests and consulting with doctors ended with a diagnosis of diverticulitis.

Of course, don't forget that in the midst of this, children are trying to study for end of marking period exams in their second language - one that two of them really don't get very much at all.

It has been a wearying three weeks.

At the same time, we've seen such neat evidences of God's care through it all:
  • People wanting to contribute to Anna's missions trip in February;
  • Teachers going the extra mile to help our children succeed in this latest language adventure;
  • Friends willing to transport then sit with and keep company in waiting rooms;
  • Pray-ers who ask how things are going;
  • Nurses who make midnight house calls to correct mistakes and bring forgotten meds.
Hard isn't bad. But it can be wearying.

Thankful God, in His omniscient providence, planned a three day weekend for our family!

Thankful our church leadership planned a soup and salad luncheon for Sunday... and for the excitement of kids preparing to go to church this Sunday disguised as Anna and Elsa, Tom and Jerry, Mario and Luigi, Tuareg bride and Michigan hunter

We need both: the rest and the fun!


08 November 2015

A Story of Three Very Different Thanksgivings

Posted this last weekend over at Missionary Mom's Companion...


 Thoughts of Thanksgivings way past... 

  • traveling to grandparents' house
  • aunts and uncles and cousins and family friends 
  • tearing around a small, rural southern Illinois town on bikes in jeans and sweatshirts, fingers and noses freezing, but a last hurrah before it became too wintery
  • the smell of cigars
  • Thanksgiving Day parades on TV - with all of those amazing floats 
  • American football in the heyday of the Pittsburgh Steelers
  • cousin slumber parties in the refinished basement
  • tables and tables and tables full of food including Stove Top Stuffing spiked with chunks of cheese
  • unlimited orange and grape pop in the basement fridge...

Magical memories...

They easily assume an almost mystical, mythological place in our minds, which then makes it all the more difficult to appreciate a present moment. As an adult, I've discovered that those delightful recollections of childhood Thanksgivings had unexpected repercussions. I'd try to recreate aspects of those bygone days, only to fail miserably because it never felt the same, at least not to me.


I was on an express path to lose my love for what had always been my most treasured holiday.

Don't get me wrong. There's nothing wrong with remembering. But there's so much wrong with trying to recreate what has passed... Instead, we have to draw from the past to build something new.

Our first "traditional" Thanksgiving in W. Africa was a memorable one. My father-in-law had flown out to visit and to see our new home. He brought a frozen turkey in his carry-on! I learned to make mock pumpkin pie from squash, mock pecan pie using oatmeal and mock apple pie from zucchini. I made giblet gravy for the first time and stuffing from scratch - we splurged on cheese to stuff down into the chunks of bread. We borrowed VHS tapes with old football games on them, pulled out our piddly artificial Christmas tree to decorate and began playing Christmas music. We worked on puzzles and played board games and watched Swiss Family Robinson. We'd invited a few single friends to spend the day with us. We discovered that some of the best watermelon EVER came into season during November in Niger and started a new Thanksgiving tradition that involved watermelon instead of cranberries. We prayed and thanked the Lord for our new home. It was a beautiful, wonderful Saturday (since the actual US Thanksgiving day was work as usual for the rest of the world) that set the scene for many more W. African Thanksgivings to come...


After we'd been living in Niger for a few years, we realized that our brothers and sisters in the church also celebrated a time of thanksgiving. Sometime in October, after the beginning of the school year (October 1), many churches observed a "Fête de Moisson," or Harvest Celebration. Invitations were sent to sister churches. Neighborhood children were invited. The church was meticulously cleaned, sometimes even repainted and decorations were strung from the metal trusses supporting the roof. A goat or sheep was slaughtered and slow cooked in a sauce we'd smell throughout the entire service. Everyone brought some food - or at the very least, a bag of hard candies or several bagged yogurts to share. Sometimes, there was even a case of cold, glass bottled Coke - for the men. A basket was placed in the front of the church and after the time of singing and a short sermon, everyone had several opportunities to sing and dance their way down the aisle, to the front and place gifts in that basket - first the elders, then all the men, then all the women, then the choir, then the children, then families - one by one... and on and on. Often, the women would buy yards of the same material from the market several weeks ahead of time and would show up to church in mostly matching outfits. There were games during the children's Sunday School time - sometimes prizes were handed out to children who recited their verses. At the conclusion of the service, we'd eat a meal together - men served first, often in groups of 5 or 6 sitting around a large plate piled high with the rice and sauce that had been awfully distracting during the sermon. Then children would be served... and finally the women would eat together. Usually everyone ate with their hands. Sometimes - trying to be nice, they gave us - the missionary family - spoons to use. We always smiled and said thank you - and never said that it was actually more fun to eat with our hands. I can't say that I loved it... this Thanksgiving celebration... NOT the first time. But it grew on me. The past few years, I've missed watching my children dance and laugh and clap their way to the front of the church - and the offering basket - while our African family danced and laughed and clapped with them.




This year, we celebrated Thanksgiving in Canada.  Canadian Thanksgiving's beginnings are more closely identified to European traditions than to New World unity. Many decades before Europeans settled in North America, festivals of thanks and celebrations of harvest took place throughout Europe during the month of October. It is generally agreed that the first Thanksgiving celebration in North America actually took place in Canada, when English explorer Martin Frobisher landed in Newfoundland. He was thankful for safety as he traveled across the Atlantic. He arrived 43 years before the Pilgrims landed in Massachusetts... 1572. I've only ever celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving in Quebec; according to what most have told me - it isn't nearly as big of a deal in Quebec as it is in Ontario and western Canada (nobody really said anything about further east). At most, it is a three day weekend to spend time with family. More typically, it is a bit of a party weekend, with Monday as the official holiday. After our traditional Thanksgiving meal (with from-scratch cranberry sauce, for the first time ever), our daughter and her friend went out door to door in our neighborhood. They were collecting pop and other cans for recycling (it's a common way students here raise funds for school activities). Her friend said it would be a great weekend - lots of beer bottles to collect - and she was right. We filled our SUV with garbage bags full of bottles and cans. Even the passenger side front seat was packed, and the girls had to walk to the return center while I drove to meet them. Our church did have a meal after the service on Sunday, which was a fun time to fellowship, eat delicious food and visit. But we couldn't hang out all day as we rent a room and had a deadline by which we needed to be cleaned up and cleared out. The Christian school our children attend gifted families with a four-day weekend - and the last Thursday afternoon was spent watching students (dressed in "Fall" themed/colored costumes) participate in an annual competition: the Autumn Leaves Race. Many parents were at the school to cheer their kids on, and it seemed like fun was had by all - even the highschoolers who had to reluctantly run 2+ kilometers. 

We're still figuring out Thanksgiving here. We live near a First Nations/Native American reservation. I'd love to find out if they have any type of harvest celebration! Next year, maybe!

Were those Thanksgivings past better than more recent ones? No. And even though not EVERY year makes memories with the same sort of reminiscing power, Thanksgiving remains my favorite time of year...

Maybe because it isn't all about me. It is all about remembering why I'm thankful... and to quote some lyrics of a well-known song: 



The sun comes up
It's a new day dawning
It's time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass
And whatever lies before me
Let me be singing
When the evening comes

You're rich in love
And You're slow to anger
Your name is great
And Your heart is kind
For all Your goodness
I will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons
For my heart to find

And on that day
When my strength is failing
The end draws near
And my time has come
Still my soul will
Sing Your praise unending
Ten thousand years
And then forevermore
Forevermore

Bless the Lord oh my soul
Oh my soul
Worship His Holy name
Sing like never before
Oh my soul
I'll worship Your Holy name"

(Matt Redman - 10,000 Reasons)

03 November 2015

Generating Gratitude

Thanksgiving is this month… unless you live in Canada (like I do now). If you do, Thanksgiving was last month.

Traditionally, Fall- or harvest-time in western cultures - includes a specified time of celebration, family and giving thanks. But that doesn't mean western cultures have the corner on this sort of celebration.

Have you already guessed? Our monthly theme [at Missionary Mom's Companion] for November is thankfulness... and we hope to spark a conversation about how Thanksgiving (or Action de Grâce as we say in French) is celebrated around the world. 

To start things off, I'd like to revisit something I wrote a few years back... while I was still living in West Africa... all about gratitude!

...I feel a bit stupid starting out like this – 

I REALLY can’t stand listening to a generator.


I know. You’re wondering, “What’s the big deal?”

First, I’ve listened to them an awful lot lately.



Additionally, generators are noisy, they stink, there’s usually a big puff of black smoke as they start up, I’m quite sure they can’t be good for the environment and they consume a whole lot of diesel fuel. That gets expensive. 

And while that list of five might actually be considered valid reasons for my churlishness, they aren’t the real ones behind my stronger than ambivalent dislike.

My antipathy towards those monstrosities which authorize electricity for some while everyone else has plunged into darkness is nothing short of sinful.


I detest them because I don’t have one…

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Don't bail now! To read the rest, please join me over at Missionary Mom's Companion... and let's discuss thankfulness!

31 October 2015

Five Minute Friday ~ Almost

Almost.

It's an oxymoron within a word.

Just stop and think about it...


A sort-of once upon a time compound word, all + most, and meaning not quite or very nearly...

Yet all by itself, all means the entirety, wholly and without limit

and most mostly means the greatest number, amount or extent.

How can you have a greatest possible... yet be without limit?

Doesn't possible limit, at least in a sense?


I've thought "almost" so many times this week...

I almost had that recipe just right... then the phone rang, I ran downstairs to answer it, got distracted until I smelled burnt.

She's almost over her cold... except that she's still keeping me up a chunk of the night with the coughing that no longer keeps her awake.

She almost got a good grade on her French exam - well, at least on half of it she did; the other half? Let's just say there is lots of room for improvement.

It's one of those words that can be good - if the very nearly was a bad thing barely escaped - a car accident, a brush with death, a goal so close to being attained...

Or it can be bad, if it is a not quite but desperately hoped for first soccer goal, your dad telling you how much farther before reaching the rest area and the bathroom when traveling, a failure that was so close to success...


Thankfully, almost never describes

Jesus

the sufficiency of His sacrifice

the reality of His resurrection

He's surety for the future for all who've placed their hope and trust on Him.

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First Five Minute Friday write in a loooooooooooong time!
Not linking up... just writing for the fun of it.

We'll see what happens next week!




Photos of Tori playing soccer
taken by her grandfather
Dick Stewart
Lansing, MI

28 October 2015

Uncomfortable Unknowns with Young'Uns

I wrote the original version of these words just over five years ago, in September 2010. Five years later, I could still be writing these words – it doesn’t feel like much has changed at all. And yet, our children have gotten older, it seems like the stakes are higher… everything has changed and just keeps on changing SO. VERY. MUCH! So I share these words again, today, in the hopes that they might encourage one who keeps looking for that light at the end of the transition tunnel only to uncover yet another bend with weakening flashlight batteries (or flickering candles, depending on where you minister). In our family, God’s grace and presence in this life chock-full of shiftings and switchings, has been rock-solid constant. Most days, our only response is rejoicing in all God has done and continues to do.
IMG_834020140816
Our little Jonathan recently began school – a first language French school – for the first time. Yesterday, as he was sharing with us about his day, he told us about working on saying and writing the alphabet in French instead of English. Suddenly, he stopped and exclaimed: “AND Mama! Did you know they say zshee for ‘J’ and zshay for ‘G?’ THAT. IS. JUST. WRONG!!!”
We tend to resist anything that pushes, prods or pulls us from a place of the comfortable customary to the uncomfortable unknown. Jonathan expressed that rather eloquently, and while we laughed (for the look on his face as that realization dawned on him was priceless), my mind was drawn to the present struggles of our present state of transition.
Without a doubt, it is emotionally harder to move back and forth with older children and teens – for they are very capable of identifying, mourning, and resisting the change AND all that they’ve lost because of the changes we inflict upon them....
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Please continue reading, over at a life overseas:the missions conversation, where I'm revisiting a passage of Scripture that continues to encourage me as we parent our children through yet another huge transition.

15 October 2015

The Enigma of Educating our TCKs

  

As a relatively large family (eight children spanning 13 years) that’s been on the mission field, essentially since the turn of the century (15 years - long enough to be considered career), we’ve tried several different education options: homeschool, local language schools, private school, public school, online school… We’ve not yet used the boarding option at a boarding school (unless you count our university aged kiddos living in a dorm, but that’s still a whole different ballgame). And, in fact, when we first left for the field, I would have told anyone who asked that home school was the plan, but also that boarding school was the only option NOT on the table. 

Now?

I would tell you that any possible option that presents itself makes its way to the table as a topic of discussion…

People have asked us before about our education plan/philosophy, and I used to think I had it pretty well figured out – actually, mapped out – before our first reached third grade. A special educator with several years of experience in the classroom… a professional trained to look at the individual skills, abilities and needs of an individual student – and one who was fairly good at what I did… I figured those skills would naturally transfer to figuring out an exceptional and best educational plan for each one of my own children. Since I was the professional educator, my husband – although always an active contributor to the many conversations – essentially followed my lead regarding what was best, educationally, for our children, although there have been compromises. 

I’ve discovered that it HAS NOT come naturally – because my own desires and dreams for my children often interferes with… even disguises… what might actually be best for them… educationally, emotionally, physically, socially… spiritually. Those best choices that I could see easily for someone else’s child weren’t nearly so obvious when it came to my own.  Sometimes, best choices actually get in the way of good decisions. Sometimes, we make what appear to be best decisions – only to discover down the road aways that we didn’t have all of the facts or experience necessary to know actually know what we were deciding…


We’ve I’ve made so many mistakes. 

I’m thankful for God’s grace and merciful children. 

Key questions we’ve started asking when it comes to making those educational decisions...


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If you'd like to read the rest, please join me @ Missionary Mom's Companion, where I posted this article last weekend!

06 October 2015

Desserts on a Budget

It isn't something new... really...

Super fun to use my cake pedestal, which I received as a wedding gift many, many moons ago, and which has spent most of those moons in storage because I wasn't gonna take it to Africa!

But, with two in college and six in private school and the cost of living in Quebec, a new-to-us place, the corner cutting learning curve is rather steep.

But, I am able to apply some skills I learned from trying to grocery shop in Niger...

I don't plan menus. I gave up rather early on in my African days... when every Friday afternoon I'd plan out a menu for my Saturday grocery shopping day - only to get to the store and discover that something I needed was no longer available in town. One week, there was no butter. The next week, no powdered milk. Another, no eggs. It's not surprising that supply in a W. African town might be inconsistent, and it did get better over the years that we were there, but by then?

Habits had hardened and weren't so easily broken.

What I'd learned to do was know about how much food it took to feed my gang for a week and to buy enough of whatever was available in town and then develop a menu once I got home with whatever it was I'd found.

That strategy works just as well, here in the developed west - when applied to sales. That means I don't have to clip coupons, scour the sales ads, etc. I go grocery shopping at the store that happens to be convenient, buy what is on sale and then build my menu from what I have in the pantry, fridge and freezer when I get home.

This week - they had huge bags of beets on sale.

Other ingredients - butter, sugar, flour, eggs, cocoa - are all the type of things I almost usually always have on hand.

But, that meant the learning curve for the next few weeks would be how to cook with beets (Not borscht - we've already been there, done that; although Tim and the biggers like it, it isn't a fave with the littlers.). Since I need after school snacks as well as in-school snacks, the first thing I did was google "ways to use beets in desserts." The first entire page of search results all ultimately led back to the very first link listed: 


I must admit, the recipe/title did not interest me, not in the least - hence why I skipped it and kept on reading through the rest of the results.

As I kept coming back to the above page, however, the brilliant pink frosting, however, finally did pique my interest.


So I read on, and decided to give it a try... although I made cupcakes instead of a layered cake. And... I made a few changes... but for the most part, I followed the recipe as written.

Ingredients:
2 beets - roasted and then finely grated
Spray of olive oil

3/4 cup grated beets
3/4 cup of butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup honey
2 large eggs
splash of vanilla
2 cups flour
2/3 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 "sorta" teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups milk soured with vinegar

1/4 cup softened butter
1/2 brick softened cream cheese
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tbsp grated beets mashed with a fork
splash of vanilla
milk as desired

Preheat oven to 400'F.

Wash beets under running water, and trim leaves (although mine were already trimmed). Place beets in foil.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Seal up foil.  Place in the oven and roast until tender when pierced with a fork - which was slightly less than an hour. Allow beets to cool completely (that was when I went to pick the kids up from school).  Peel once cool and grate, finely.

Reduce the oven temp - 350'F.  Place cupcake liners into cupcake pan.

Cream together butter and sugars until fluffy, a few minutes.  Beat in eggs, one at a time. Then beat in beets and vanilla extract until thoroughly combined.

Combine milk and a dash of vinegar to make 1 1/4 cup soured milk. Let sit.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

Add half of the dry ingredients to the butter and egg mixture.  Beating on low speed , slowly add soured milk.  Once just incorporated, add the other half of the dry ingredients. Beat on medium speed until milk and dry ingredients are just incorporated.  

Spoon the thickish batter into prepared muffin pan.  Bake for 18-20 minutes or until done. Cake is done when a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove from the oven, remove from muffin pan and allow to cool.

For the frosting, beat cream cheese, butter and powdered sugar together. Add beets, vanilla and milk.

Frost cupcakes.

And, that's all there is to it! The step of roasting the beets does lengthen and complicate the process, but only slightly. And, they do say that beets have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties as well as aid in the detoxification of the body. Maybe... maybe not - but at least "beet" might not be a bad word when I tell the kids that they play a prominent part in future recipes.

By the way, I left the brilliantly colored cupcakes prominently displayed as the gang was getting ready for school. The end result was Wrightlings anxious to get home and grab their after school snack! There's even enough left for tomorrow's after school snack as well!

Oh yeah! I can't forget to mention that I think the dad snuck one into his lunch on his way out the door... even though he was allowed to test taste the night before.


This recipe has been officially declared, by each and every Wrightling present,

"A THUMBS UP, DEFINITE REPEAT!!"

(Good thing, since I bought 10 lbs of beets! But I guess I'd also better figure out a few more recipes that use beets!)

23 September 2015

Check it out!

Well... I'm back... and planning to be around more consistently... now. But no promises on how consistent that will exactly be! Why?

celebrating reaching the summit of La Chouenne

It has been a crazy nine months, and in the craziness, this place has been sadly neglected:

  • 2 months of single parenting while Tim was working up in Quebec last winter
  • An online class with a 2 week practicum (in Montreal... Yeah - Tim got 2 months and I got 2 weeks. Sound like a fair exchange to you?) But now I am Cambridge University ESL certified and hoping to use that skill here in Quebec.
  • A Homecoming Queen and a graduating senior
  • A "graduating" kindergartner
  • "international"  company and some amazing visits from some wonderful people
  • An international move - without the help of a moving company but with the help of a lot of amazing friends
  • Learning a new place
  • Settling two adult children into their lives far away - one studying Biology in Michigan and the other studying Missionary Nursing in Iowa
  • Helping the other 6 children transition into school, in a foreign language (French) - just trust me when I say it is a lot of intensive work! I already knew how hard it was, but before it was always one child at a time. Now, it is that same amount of work times 6!
  • A new church
  • Another graduation year and making sure everything is in order for her to begin community college (studying elementary education) next fall, here in Quebec.
Yikes! See why there are no promises?

But I have missed this place ~  It is hard to think when I best think with my fingers on a keyboard and I've not had time to do so very much lately.

For now, though, the house is silent - except for my tapping away: Tim is away at the studio, busy editing programming for Aujourd'hui l' Espoir. The kids are all at school. And I'm at home, taking care of  "mom"-stuff, including figuring out ways to use leftover coffee as part of an afternoon snack! This quiet time at home is like a healing balm after the crazy busyness of recent months!

And, to launch it all, 
I'd like to call your attention to a new tab above 
called 


If you have a minute to check it out, I'd appreciate any feedback you might have!
There's a short "teaser" below!


 A series 

~ first inspired by a sermon preached by the senior pastor of my sending church ~ 

It took much longer to write, went much deeper than I expected, and will, I believe, continue to mull around in my head and heart for a long time. I wanted to collect everything here... Just for that very reason. 

And I pray that God allows me a part in His work for as long as He chooses to keep me hanging around...


Longevity, defined in its most basic terms, refers to length of service or tenure. After all of the work, time, goodbyes and oft' painful transitions into new cultures and languages, those who call themselves international workers or missionaries typically hope to have long, productive careers. Just like a doctor wouldn't want to change career directions after one or two years of work, most career missionaries do not leave for the field planning to only stay one or two years. And while there are many legitimate reasons to change that plan - "leaving before we planned to" or even "without planning to" because something preventable prevents us from staying, leaving is something most of us would like to avoid.

We want to be able to say, right along with Paul: 

For I am now ready to be offered, 
and the time of my departure is at hand. 
I have fought a good fight, 
I have finished my course, 
I have kept the faith: 
Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, 
which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: 
and not to me only, 
but unto all them also that love his appearing.

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Click on the tab in the header above... or follow this link... to continue or for access to all posts in the series!

14 September 2015

Across the Great Divide

As a kid, I vaguely remember watching a movie called Across the Great Divide. I don’t remember a ton of details – essentially two orphan kids have to get across the Rocky Mountains and to the West Coast to get their inheritance. In the process, they meet up with… and end up partnering with… a con man which ends up being key to reaching their goal.

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The title of the movie has an obvious meaning. Those orphans had to cross the Continental, or Great, Divide – a hydrological boundary that runs from the Bering Strait in Alaska to the Strait of Magellan, at the tip of South America. This line divides two great watersheds. To the east of the divide, all water drains, ultimately, into the Atlantic Ocean. To the west, it courses to the Pacific.

There is, however, another more symbolic meaning to those words. The Great Divide was not just that place where geologically, water flow separated. It was also the converse – it was the place where, for a moment, those ultimately heading in very different directions actually met. Thus, metaphorically, what could be seen by some only as only a source of division could, conceivably, also become a summit meeting place, a place for conversation and dialogue, a place for challenge, growth and change...

Within Christianity, there are a number of these “great divides,” and missions is no different....

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To read the rest, join me at a life overseas: the missions conversation, where I'm posting today!

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